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Looking back over the past three decades at Tampa International, there have been a number of significant events that have helped shape the Airport into the world-class facility we know today. Every historical event of importance is listed below. Scroll down to see our history starting in 1971.

Of course, the history of Tampa International Airport isn't just since 1971. If you would like to read about our history prior to 1971 go to the Drew Field Municipal Airport


1971

On April 15, 1971, Tampa International Airport's new Terminal Complex officially opened. The Landside/Airside Terminal Complex was the first of its kind, designed like a spoked wheel. More than 50,000 people came to see the new Airport Terminal during its two-day open house. National Airlines Flight 36 from Los Angeles was the first plane to arrive at the new Terminal, landing at 5:26 a.m.

Ground was broken for the $11 million Host of Tampa hotel at Tampa International Airport.


1972

After its first full year of operations, Tampa International had good news to report. Passenger figures were up nearly 4 million. Each month, passenger traffic was up about 20 percent over the same month the previous year. Budgets show Tampa International operated in the black during the first full year of operations.

A new Federal Aviation Administration control tower, ground level equipment, and radar rooms began operation. At 207 feet above mean sea level, the tower was the highest in the nation.

1973

Tampa International Airport received its rating as a large-hub airport.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority (HCAA), the Airport's governing body, announced the Airport became self-sufficient three years ahead of schedule. County ad valorem property tax funds were no longer needed to support airport operations.

Host International Airport Hotel officially opened.

Passenger traffic for the year rose to 4,848,645, a 14.1 percent increase over 1972.

1975

HCAA sold $4.6 million in bonds to finance the runway reconstruction project.

Demolition began at the old Tampa International Airport Terminal.

Freedom Federal Savings and Loan Association was the first savings and loan branch to open in an airport in the Southeast U.S.

1976

Tampa International leased six acres of land to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be used for the team's headquarters and training site.

The main north-south runway was reopened after a $4 million reconstruction project was completed.

1977

A new wind-shear detection system was installed allowing air traffic controllers to alert pilots of abnormal wind conditions.

1978

HCAA sold $6.2 million of revenue bonds to finance a runway extension and expansion of the Airport's rental car facilities.

A $3.8 million construction project to extend the main runway from 8,700 feet to 11,000 feet got underway. The expansion was necessary to accommodate trans-Atlantic jets.

1979

Passenger traffic for 1978 set a record with nearly 7 million passengers using Tampa International.

A public hearing was held on the Airport's proposed Master Plan for the Airport's future development through the year 2000.

Host International planned a $1.5 million renovation of the dining and beverage facilities at Tampa International Airport.

The HCAA authorized planning and design of additional public parking facilities at Tampa International Airport.

1980

WYZ-235 1610 AM, Tampa International Airport Information Radio began broadcasting to motorists within five miles of the Airport, providing updates on parking conditions.

The main runway expansion project was completed, making the runway capable of handling any size aircraft.

Construction began on a new runway apron extension and parallel taxiway to speed aircraft ground movement.

Groundbreaking ceremonies marked the beginning of construction on a new 77,000 square foot General Aviation Center at the site of the Airport's old terminal.

1981

An $80 million bond issue was sold to fund improvements at the Airport including three additional levels in the Short Term Parking Garage.

Construction began on Tampa International's parkway system improvement project. The project included the addition of a third lane in each direction and an overpass near the U.S. Post Office.

Host International completed a $1.5 million renovation of the dining and beverage facilities in the Landside Terminal.

1982

A new instrument landing system and approach lighting system went into operation on the main runway, allowing ILS approaches under practically all wind conditions.

The newly widened Terminal Parkway system opened.

1983

Tampa International's application for implementing the PFC was approved by the FAA.

1984

Tampa International joined the city of Tampa in hosting professional football's Super Bowl XVIII. The Airport served more than 300 private aircraft as well as thousands of airline passengers.

Construction was completed on a new consolidated Air Cargo Terminal for Tampa International.

1985

More than 30,000 spectators visited Tampa International to see the Concorde, visiting to promote non-stop service between Tampa and London, England by British Airways.

Planning began for the construction of Terminal F, the fifth Airside terminal in Tampa International's Terminal Complex.

Tampa International acquired Vandenberg Airport as its third general aviation airport.

The Aviation Authority issued a $95 million bond to fund long-term improvements including construction of the new Airside F.

Renovation of the Baggage Claim level of the Landside Terminal was completed.

1986

A project to remove all acoustical and fire-proofing materials containing asbestos throughout the Landside Terminal and Service Building was approved.

Ground was broken on the construction of Airside F.

The "mini-mall" on the main transfer level of the Landside Terminal was opened. The mall contains gift and souvenir shops, a newsstand and an art gallery.

1987

A second Airport Rescue and Fire station was completed and dedicated at Tampa International.

Airside F was dedicated and airline operations commenced from the new 200,700 square foot, 15 gate terminal.

1988

Tampa International's east/west runway, used during strong east or west winds, was reconstructed.

The Aviation Authority announced it will acquire 370 acres of land in Drew Park and other industrial areas north of the Airport in conjunction with its Master Plan.

1989

Approval for a $128 million Long Term Parking Garage was granted by the Aviation Authority.

1990

Tampa International purchased 10.6 acres of environmentally sensitive land in one of the Airport's flight approach zones.

1991

The new Long Term Parking Garage opened with 4,744 additional parking spaces. A portion of the garage was dedicated to rental car facilities.

1992

The $3 Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) to fund planned improvements was approved by the Aviation Authority.

1993

Tampa International's application for implementing the PFC was approved by the FAA.

1994

The Aviation Authority voted to start the purchase of 205 acres in the Drew Park Land Acquisition area. The acquisition process is expected to be complete around the year 2010.

A record 12 million passengers used Tampa International Airport in 1994-a 20 percent increase over 1993.

1995

Airside A, the sixth and final airside in Tampa International's current Landside/Airside Terminal Complex officially opened. The 235,000 square foot terminal has 15 gates, including two specifically designed for commuter aircraft.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

The 24-year-old shuttle cars serving Airside D were replaced. The original cars were among the first airport shuttle cars ever used. Each car traveled more the 1 million miles, or the equivalent of two round trips to the moon.

The Aviation Authority approved a $14 million renovation to the third floor transfer level of Tampa International's Landside Terminal and a $51 million addition to the Long Term Parking Garage.

1996

April 15-Tampa International Airport celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the current Landside/Airside Terminal Complex.

A new $4.5 million Terminal Doppler Weather Radar was installed. The sophisticated radar displays critical information about thunderstorms such as wind speeds, gust fronts, microbursts, wind shear, wind shifts and rain intensity.

Louis E. Miller replaced George J. Bean, who retired after more than 30 years as executive director of the Aviation Authority.

Fenton Hill Florida completed the renovation of the Duty Free Shop in Airside C.

The Aviation Authority approved the re-naming of the Terminal Parkway to the George J. Bean Parkway.

A record 13 million passengers used Tampa International in 1996.

1997

Renovation began on the Airport's Transfer Level to add 12 new shops to the retail area and update the 26-year-old facility.

The Airport Transit Lounges at Airside F were renovated for arriving international passengers.

TPA renovated its longest, westernmost runway at a cost of $9.7 million and completed the project 26 days ahead of schedule.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), instituted a Medfly Eradication Program at Tampa International. The purpose of this program was to prevent Medfly-infested fruit from leaving the affected area (June 23, 1997).
Long Term Parking garage improvements increased the parking capacity to 8,000.

British Airways increased its London service to three weekly flights.

Southwest implemented nonstop flights to Jacksonville, Albuquerque and Nashville.

Condor increased its service to Frankfurt, Germany and Mexico.

2000

JetBlue Airways inaugurated service in March at Tampa International Airport with three nonstop flights between Tampa and New York's John F. Kennedy International. JetBlue, a low-fare airline carrier, gained a competitive edge with roomy, all-leather seats, each equipped with free satellite television.

Major demolition of Airside E began, at a cost of $113 million. A new, state-of-the-art Airside E will open in 2002.

Two new pedestrian bridges that connect the Landside Terminal Building to the Long-Term Parking Garage opened in July. This $2.1 million project gives passengers another time-saving option to choose from at Tampa International.

Tampa International recognizes aviatrix Bessie Coleman with the renaming of the Airport Service Road to Bessie Coleman Boulevard. Coleman was known for her air acrobatics and stunts, while overcoming racial prejudice and gender discrimination as the first African-American woman to receive a pilot's license.
In February, Tampa International Airport's renovated Web site comes online. The site features expanded information and real time flight information.

2001

Tampa International implemented many new safety and security measures in the weeks and months following the September 11 tragedy.

2002

The new Airside E opened for operations in October. A $120 million-dollar project with 13 operational jet gates, Airside E became Tampa International's first airside terminal building to be equipped with an automated outbound baggage delivery conveyor system.

As a commitment to safety, Tampa International installed Automated External Defibrillators throughout the Landside Terminal Building and Airsides. The AED units are safe for trained lay rescuers to treat sudden cardiac arrest, and are part of an established Chain of Survival.

Frontier Airlines began service out of Tampa International in June, with flights to and from Denver International.

Tampa International implemented $100 million in security enhancements. The most significant enhancement is an inline baggage system to provide for the integration of explosive detection systems to meet the imposed federal requirement for 100 percent EDS screening of checked baggage.

2003

Tampa International is rated best in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine, which also rated Tampa International among the top three in the world.

Song, a low-cost airline carrier and daughter company of Delta Air Lines, joined Tampa International in May, with a commitment to reintroduce fun and excitement to the travel experience.

2004

J.D. Power & Associates Global Airport Satisfaction Study awards Tampa high honors, recognizing it as #2 in the U.S. and #4 in the world for overall passenger satisfaction.

United Airlines introduces Ted, its low cost carrier, to the Tampa Bay area and launches service between Tampa and Denver. Ted will also link Tampa with Chicago O'Hare and Washington Dulles airports.

June 24, 2004, Tampa International completed a 100 percent in-line explosive detection system. The $124-million baggage handling system make TPA the second large airport in the nation to go completely in-line, the first with multi-user capabilities.

The aviation community mourns the passing of George J. Bean, Executive Director of Tampa International Airport from 1965 to 1996. Mr. Bean is credited with a lifetime of service to aviation organizations worldwide and the revolutionary design of Tampa International Airport.

Hurricane season had an impact on the State of Florida this year. Hurricane Charley bears down on West Central Florida, soon to be followed by Frances, Jeanne and Ivan, impacting flight operations statewide for 44 days. Thanks to preparation and an unprecedented cooperative effort by the Airport and tenants, the storm season concludes without substantial damage (approximately $2.2 million) to Tampa International and its three general aviation airports.

By the end of the year, new air service is added to Tampa with the introduction of two new airlines. WestJet, a Canadian low fare carrier commences four weekly flights to Toronto and Independence Air offers a new option to Washington Dulles with four daily nonstop flights from Tampa.

2005

In April, Tampa International Airport opens Airside C. The 315,000-square-foot facility, at a cost of $134.8 million, accommodates 16 gates, 10 lanes of security screening and five works of public art. The airside is home to Southwest Airlines, Independence Air, Midwest and Spirit. In addition, the airside boasts state-of-the-art features such as free wireless internet access throughout and information kiosks that offer complete information on the Airport features, amenities and Tampa Bay attractions.

Ron Jon Surf Shop joins the Galleria of Shops in the Landside Terminal and becomes an instant success with a selection of beach-themed apparel and accessories.

Over the summer, Tampa Bay welcomes the Florida Airports Council Conference and Exhibition. The attendees from all of Florida's commercial and general aviation airports convene in the area for the first time since 1997.

Tampa International receives the 2005 Global Airport Efficiency Award by the Air Transport Research Society.

For the ninth consecutive year, the FAA recognizes TPA for faultless inspections. The inspectors evaluate performance in such areas as operations, maintenance and safety, including the Airport Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) services.

During another tumultuous hurricane season, Tampa International staff lend a helping hand with relief efforts. Medical evacuees from Hurricane Katrina arrive in Tampa on a C-141 military transport, triaged and sent to area hospital and shelters.

Just in time for the holiday travel season, TPA opens the Economy Parking Garage, adding 3,300 new covered parking spaces.

2006

Tampa International Airport opens a new consolidated firefighting facility complete with the latest in design and technology.

Phase 2 of Economy Parking opens, increasing capacity at the facility to 7,800 covered parking spaces and 1,500 surface spaces.

The airport opens a new consolidated rental car facility across from Red Baggage Claim. The facility maximizes convenience for rental car customers while reducing congestion in the baggage claim area.

The airport demolishes vacant Airside D, the last remaining original Airside to accommodate the high demand for overnight aircraft parking

2007

Gary Milano hired as the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Security Director. Milano is the second person to hold the title at Tampa International since the agency’s creation.

TPA is voted Best Overall U.S. Airport by the Zagat global airline/Airport Travel Survey.

2008

TPA is voted Best Airport in “The Best and Worst U.S. Airports” according to Travel + Leisure Magazine

TPA is ranked 2nd among U.S. airports in on-time arrivals and departures according to a survey by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

2009

Stimulus funds totaling $8 million, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, are dedicated to TPA, accelerating the construction of Taxiway B.

Tampa International Airport dedicates the new Air Cargo Road as it opens for public access. The 1.4 mile extension opens up the east side of the airfield for additional commercial development.

2010

Louis Miller, Executive Director since 1996, departs from his position with the Aviation Authority. The Board of Directors names John Wheat as the interim Executive Director and begins an extensive search for the next leader of Tampa International Airport.

AirTran Airways and JetBlue announce new nonstop service to Puerto Rico beginning in the spring.

British Airways announces the decision to expand its nonstop service to London’s Gatwick Airport beginning in the spring.

2011

Joseph W. Lopano is hired as the CEO of Tampa International Airport. Lopano, most recently at Dallas/Ft.Worth International Airport, becomes only the third CEO in the history of Tampa International Airport.

CNNgo.com names Tampa International Airport as one of the 10 Most Loved Airports. TPA is the only airport in the U.S. to make the list.

ABC Charters adds a second Cuban city to its schedule with service to Holguin. Tampa is only the second city in the U.S. to serve multiple destinations in Cuba.

2012

Electric vehicle charging stations are added to Valet Parking and the Cell Phone Waiting Lot.

TPA opens the first public, airport-based natural gas fuel station in Florida. The conversion to natural gas vehicles is expected to save the airport over $1 million in the first five years.

Water skis meet snow skis as Edelweiss Air connects to Tampa with nonstop flights to Zurich, Switzerland.

Local flavor lands at TPA with an assortment of new dining options including The Columbia Café, the Green Iguana and Cigar City Brewing. Just in time for the RNC, Tampa launches a volunteer ambassador program. Volunteers are stationed at the baggage claim area at Visitor Information Centers.

Tampa Airport opens a USO Center to welcome the thousands of service men and women and their families who pass through TPA each year.

2013

The HCAA Board of Directors approves the 2012 update of the Airport’s Master Plan, which outlines phased projects to maximize the potential of the existing terminal, while identifying potential growth and revenue in the airport’s outlying properties.

Copa Airlines announces new nonstop service between Tampa and Panama City, Panama beginning in December.





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