Airport searches for solution to increase international flights

01/07/10 Arielle Stevenson
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Property demolition wasn’t the only major issue discussed at this morning’s Hillsborough aviation authority meeting. The lack of international flights at the airport was also on the table.

Tampa international airport offers non-stop service to only three international destinations. The overall lack of international flights garnered attention earlier last month when board member Steve Burton proposed forming a new marketing committee to increase international traffic. Joel Antolini works for Seabury aviation and aerospace consultants whom the airport commissioned to study the problem. Antolini presented a report on the cities where Tampa is “leaking” international flyers to other airports like Miami and Orlando.

Of the international flights in Tampa, Toronto had the highest amount of flyers at 241. But Antolini says for carriers looking to establish non-stop service in Tampa, it often isn’t fiscally fruitful enough.

Antolini says getting the community behind the effort means offering incentives to local businesses with international travel needs. Then getting those businesses to commit to a certain amount of regular travel. That would provide incentive for carriers to offer non-stop flights from Tampa. Board member Steve Burton says that more information is needed on the local business perspective before incentives are offered.

Tampa Mayor and board member Pam Iorio says that hard economic times must be taken into consideration when asking the private sector for investment in local economic development.

Burton suggested polling Tampa’s community in order to find out what their travel needs are and where the airport could improve.

The first meeting of Burton’s new marketing committee is on January 12, the meeting is not open to the public.

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