Tampa International Airport
The history of Tampa’s main airport extends back to February 23, 1928, with the opening of Drew Field Municipal Airport. Opening as a general aviation facility with only 160 acres of clear-cut pinewoods, the new airport was hailed as “one of the Nation’s finest. Traveling to Drew Field in 1928 was much different than today as only a few brick paved roads and primitive narrow streets led to the site. In the 1940s, the facility was leased by the City of Tampa and then taken over by the US Government. The property was transformed into a holding facility for the massive war birds and became home to the signal-air-warning training school. The US Army Air Force was responsible for greatly expanding the airport during World War II. After the war ended, the base was given back to the City of Tampa to be fun as a publicly-owned aviation center. In 1946, air traffic at Drew Field increased substantially after airline operations at Davis Island were transferred to the facility. In 1952, the airport name was changed to Tampa International Airport (TPA) and served an astonishing one million passengers.
In 1958, in response to the jet age, the single north-south landing strip grew to 8,300 feet. A new terminal opened at Tampa International Airport in 1971 which featured separate airside and landside operations connected by a “people mover”. A permanent art exhibit themed after Art of the 60’s and 70s now resides on the Level 3 Landside Terminal as a testament to the airport’s history. Currently, over 3,300 acres are part of Tampa International Airport including the original Drew Field site. In 2011, over 16.7 million passengers traveled via the airport and more than 180 million pounds were shipped as cargo. About 11.4 million pounds of mail is sent through the Tampa International Airport annually.
There are five airside terminals labeled A, B, C, D, E, and F with a total of 63 gates. During an average day, about 45,000 passengers use the Tampa International Airport to board approximately 212 daily departure flights. Nearly 15,240 bags are check through the airport each day. The facility has approximately 23,000 spaces including long-term, valet, short term garage, and economy parking are located on airport property. The most popular parking choice is the economy parking which typically has over 12,500 spaces for cars throughout the lot. The long term garage typically has about 6,800 cars parking spaces. The short term garage accommodates around 3,400 cars. There are 150 valet spaces on the 5th Level of the parking garage.
Three runways have been installed at the facility. The largest is Runway 1L/19R at 150 feet wide and 11,002 feet long. The second biggest runway is 1R/19L, also 150 feet wide, at 8,300 feet long. The smallest runway on the airport is Runway 10/28 at 6,999 feet by 150 feet wide. The on-site Federal Aviation Administration Control Tower is 233 feet tall. Statistically, the airport sees the most passengers in March and is the least busy in September. The top arriving/departure destinations for the Tampa International Airport are New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, Washington DC, Ft Lauderdale, Boston, and San Juan. Approximately 7,500 people work at the airport facility. Ground transportation services connecting to and from the airport include rental cars, taxis, airport limos, and bus service.
Airlines Serving Tampa Airport
Located in Florida’s third largest city, Tampa International Airport is served by the largest airline companies in North America. Although Tampa is not a hub or focus city for any airline, it still receives great service from American carriers.
American Airlines links Tampa with the primary airports in Chicago, Miami, and New York City. Additionally, this major U.S. company offers daily flights to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, which is the headquarters for this airline. On a seasonal basis, American Airlines also operates charter flights to Havana and Holguin in Cuba. Airside F hosts all American Airlines operations at Tampa International Airport.
Stationed in Airside E, Delta Air Lines connects Tampa International Airport with all of the company’s major airport hubs in the United States. Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Memphis, New York City, and Salt Lake City are part of the busy Delta schedule at Tampa. Additionally, this huge domestic carrier also invites Tampa’s passengers to the company’s headquarters at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. When flying to New York City, Delta passengers have the choice to land in either LaGuardia Airport or JFK International Airport.
Tampa International Airport receives great low fare service from JetBlue Airways. Based in JFK Airport in New York City, this major low cost airline offers year round trips to the company’s main headquarters. LaGuardia Airport, New York City’s secondary airport, is also accessible via JetBlue Airways. This airline also lands in Westchester County Airport in the outskirts of NYC. Another way to get to the NY Metropolitan Area is to take JetBlue Airways trips to Newark Liberty International Airport in northern New Jersey. You can board the JetBlue Airways fleet at Airside A in Tampa International Airport.
The busiest status in Tampa International Airport belongs to Southwest Airlines. As the largest company in the low cost airline business in the United States, this major carrier offers trips to more than a dozen domestic destinations. Columbus, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Phoenix, and San Antonio are major destinations that are accessible through Southwest Airlines, which uses Airside C at Tampa International Airport.
Florida’s third largest city is also served by a local carrier. Based in southeastern Florida, Spirit Airlines offers trips to Atlantic City, Dallas, Detroit, and the company’s home town in the Fort Lauderdale area.
United Airlines and US Airways are the other big names that serve Tampa International Airport. Canadian passengers can use Air Canada and Westjet to travel between Toronto and Tampa. Other international airlines serving Tampa are British Airways, Cayman Airways, Edelweiss Air.