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Changes coming to TPA? Airport leaders discuss expansion plans

On Monday, TPA met to discuss its master plan update, including expanding and adding new technologies to streamline passenger processing.

TAMPA, Fla — Tampa International Airport leaders are crafting plans for how the airport will grow and adjust its expansion plans over the next two years. 

On Monday, airport stakeholders, regulatory and local planning agencies along with community partners met to discuss what that expansion will look like. 

During a general public meeting, TPA solicited input and comments from the public on current and future airport needs. 

The public shared suggestions such as incorporating more electric vehicle parking and transportation from downtown Tampa to the airport. Overall, the feedback was positive and supportive of TPA's efforts.

The airport has six goals in updating its master plan, which are:

  1. Creating a 20-year forecast for the airport.
    1. This will include consideration of incorporating autonomous vehicles in the airport, electric vertical aircraft takeoff and landing, and additional touchless technology for passengers.
  2. Assess airport capacity to determine if an additional runway is needed.
  3. Assessment of existing runways in compliance with FAA standards.
  4. Assess terminal processing capacity, and determine costs of build-out of North Terminal.
  5. Assess parking capacities, curbside and roadway improvements.
  6. Assess capacity enhancements across the various aviation business sectors: commercial airline operations, cargo, general aviation, parking, rental car, ground access along with aircraft maintenance and logistics

TPA CEO Joe Lopano told 10 Tampa Bay the most notable changes to the airport will be in the way of technological advancements.

"We're going to see a lot more hands-free. You're going to be able to board airplanes without talking to anybody. You're going to see better clearance in customs, where there won't be long lines, better TSA through-puts, more electric vehicles," said Lopano. 

While the projections look a bit like something out of the Jetsons, Lopano said they reflect a not so distance future.

"This is not just an idea. This is happening and it's being tested today," said Lopano. 

The plans are for the long-term future of the airport. 

Vice President of TPA PLanning and Development Jeff Siddle said, “We’ve really been focusing on what is the growth of our community and how we forecast that over the next 20 years." 

Siddle said expanding curbside express will be complete in three years, expediting the check-in process for passengers without checked bags. 

“[It] is giving us eight more lanes on arrivals and departures four people who don’t check a bag," Siddle said. "At our main board meeting we will also be considering boarding a contract for the red side, so when you see the blue side express lanes, the sister project we call it, we’ll also be developed on the red side with the expectation being done in the spring of 2025."

While an additional runway is a point of consideration in the master plan update, Siddle said they will also look to see if other changes can be main to work with the two existing runways at TPA. 

“We are really early and not planning process but ultimately, we will be presenting that as we know more in terms of the need for that and if there is something we could do differently on the airfield that would hold off on the need of a third runway," Siddle said.

The airport's master plan is currently in phase two of its three-phase plan. Phase two is expected to be complete in 2024.

Once feedback is received, the airport will submit its updated plan to the FAA for review. 

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