TAMPA (FOX 13) - Tampa International Airport's new SkyConnect trains will up its presence on the global stage. That was the message leaders sent when the SkyConnect cars debuted at Port Tampa Bay Monday.
"We are growing, our strategy is working," said Tampa International's CEO, Joe Lompano. "We've just completed our busiest spring break on record, and we are on pace for handing more passengers this year than in any year in the airport's history."
That growth will continue with the addition of twelve new trains, which landed in Port Tampa Bay after a long journey from Japan.
"This year we'll have $260 million in our airports," said Florida Governor Rick Scott. "I think we just beat Texas as the now second busiest state for airports in the country. We are doing really well."
SkyConnect will take passengers on a 1.4-mile long trip from the airport's main terminal to the new rental car center and economy parking lot.
"It will take about five minutes including the stop at the economy garage to get to the rental car center," said airport spokesperson, Danny Valentine. "About three to four minutes to get to the economy garage. It comes every few minutes, so it's going to be really rapid service to both the rental car center and the economy garage."
Phase One, which includes SkyConnect and the rental car center is part of a $1-billion project. Behind it, is Phase Two, which includes a new hotel, and has an expected completion date of 2020. Tampa International's growth is just beginning.
"We'll continue to do so as we attract more and more international destinations and as we remind the world that Tampa is ready for its next chapter," said Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn.
SkyConnect is expected to open next February. When it does, it will remove 2.7 million vehicle trips a year from curbsides and roadways at TIA, according to Lompano. That totals more than 7,000 cars a day. Travelers can expect the roads at the airport to be much less congested in the coming year.