(February 8, 2018) Surrounded by hundreds of members of the team who made the day possible, Tampa International Airport officials joined Gov. Rick Scott and local dignitaries on Feb. 7 to dedicate the Airport’s new SkyConnect people-mover system and Rental Car Center.
Both open to the public on Feb. 14. With these elements complete, Phase 1 is coming to a close.
“This project is worthy of our history and will be admired just as we admire the designs from the past,” Airport CEO Joe Lopano told the crowd.
Lopano said the SkyConnect and state-of-the-art Rental Car Center carry forward the Airport’s legacy of exceptional customer service and convenience while simultaneously creating an Airport capable of handling a greater number of passengers.
In 2017, TPA served a record 19.6 million passengers and expects to serve more than 20 million in 2018.
“These passenger numbers are significant and underscore the importance of Tampa International Airport’s Master Plan projects and the need to build now and build smart,” said Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Chairman Robert Watkins.
The 1.5-mile SkyConnect system links the Main Terminal to the Economy Garage and the 2.6-million square foot Rental Car Center. From one end to the other, the ride takes less than five minutes. Trains arrive at each station roughly every two minutes.
Since TPA broke ground in late 2014, more than 10,700 people have logged more than 5.7 million hours on the project. Approximately 600 companies have worked on the job. Of those, about 90 percent are based in Florida or have regional offices in the state and nearly 200 are women, minority or disadvantaged business enterprises.
The people-mover system and Rental Car Center help decongest the Airport’s roadways and curbsides by removing 2.7-million vehicles from the roads each year. The center is designed to seamlessly connect to the region’s transportation network.
It is home to 16 rental car brands and brings new efficiencies with fueling, car washing and vehicle maintenance services all located at the same location for the first time. This allows passengers to get in and out more rapidly, especially during peak passenger times.
All passengers will have access to kiosks for boarding passes and checking bags at the Rental Car Center.
“We’re making it more convenient, not just for our rental car customers, but for economy parkers and the general public,” said Lopano.
In addition to the new people-mover system and Rental Car Center, the Airport has redone its Main Terminal transfer level, adding four outdoor terraces, and expanding the footprint by about the size of a football field. The transfer level is lighter, more open with more modern amenities.
TPA has also completed work on most of the 69 new shops and restaurants, including many of the local options such as Buddy Brew, Ulele, Goody Goody and RumFish Grill.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the changes are fitting for a region that is seeing tremendous changes.
“Today’s milestone reflects the upward trajectory of this city,” Buckhorn, a Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board member said. “As this Airport has grown, so has the city of Tampa’s profile on the international stage. That’s reflected by the doubling of the number of international passengers in the past seven years. The Airport makes a phenomenal first and last impression on those visitors.”
With Phase 1 coming to a close, the Airport is ramping up on Phase 2, which includes the construction of new curbsides, a commercial development area and supporting projects. Phase 3 will include the construction of a new airside with additional gates.
Once all three phases are complete, the Airport will have the ability to serve 34 million annual passengers.