TAMPA — The third-quarter financial report for Tampa International Airport is like a “triple perfect sunny day,” Airport Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano said Tuesday.
More good news is expected in 2015.
Passenger numbers were up in the third quarter by about 70,000, or 4.2 percent over the same quarter in 2013. Nearly half of those new passengers flew with Southwest Airlines. Another 37 percent flew with low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines.
Financially, the airport did 20 percent better than projected in the first nine months of 2014, or $6.1 million above budget.
And projections for 2015 show revenue for the airport higher than ever before, at $200.5 million, a 2.5 percent increase over projected overall revenue for 2014. Expenses, however, will also be up. Members of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority finance committee voted Tuesday to recommend approval of the 2015 budget, which goes to the full board Aug. 7 and again Sept. 4 for final approval.
With increased passengers, comes increased revenue, Lopano said. The 2015 proposed budget projects a 2.1 percent increase in passengers flying out of Tampa International. It would be the largest increase in passengers, year over year, since 2007, when the Great Recession began.
“Since coming out of the recession, passenger growth has been gradual each year,” said Damian Brooke, vice president of finance. The projected increase is due to the growth in the domestic market, he said. The number of available seats flying out of the airport is expected to increase 3.7 percent over 2014.
People are upgrading their airport parking options, renting more cars, taking advantage of valet and detailing services and spending more money on concessions inside the terminal, Brooke said. And airlines, including Alaska, Copa and Frontier airlines are all renting more space inside the terminal, all adding to the bottom line.
Expenses will also be up at the airport by $5.6 million, or 5.5 percent, if the aviation board approves the proposed budget. It includes the addition of 22 new employees to meet the demands of the new and existing programs the airport is offering, Brooke said. “The increased head count will get us back to right-size numbers to handle programs like the master plan.”
The airport is about to begin a $1 billion master plan that includes a consolidated rental car center in the Westshore area, a people mover to get passengers to and from Westshore where the Florida Department of Transportation plans to build an intermodal center along Interstate 275 and a complete renovation of the airport’s concessions.
The 2015 proposed budget also includes a 3.5 percent average merit raise for employees and better or upgraded benefits, which “allows us to attract top talent,” Brooke said.