St. Pete community gets close-up look at Tampa International Airport's new Airside D plans

Tourism is the lifeblood of Florida, and with Florida seeing record-breaking numbers in 2022, Tampa International Airport is building plans to keep up with the growth.

Wednesday night at the Museum of the American Arts & Crafts Movement in St. Petersburg, the community got an up-close look at plans for Airside D, TPA's first new terminal in nearly 20 years.

Travelers who have passed through TPA have seen recent upgrades like the SkyConnect autonomous people mover, rental car facility, and expansion in the main terminal, curbside and concession area. The Aviation Authority Board of Directors approved plans and a budget in September for the brand new Airside D.

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"This terminal D will be spectacular, and it'll be the best in the country, which is what Tampa deserves," Joe Lopano, the CEO of TPA, said. 

TPA's fifth airside terminal will be built in the open space behind the food court. It will have three levels with 16 gates in its planned 560,000 square feet, handling both domestic and international flights. 

It'll include a large concessions space, an outdoor terrace, state-of-the-art Customs and security facilities, as well as new screening, gate check-in and bag processing technologies. They're set to break ground in 2024, finishing in 2027.

"It focuses on reflecting new and emerging industry trends and technologies, and there's a lot of them that have been emerging in the last five years and are expected to continue over the next 10 to 20," said Pete Ricondo, the senior vice president at Ricondo & Associates. "The benefit of this allows 16 gates to be connected to an international arrival processing facility, which will be located on the third level of this airside building."

READ: TSA agents in Florida airports have confiscated more weapons so far in 2022 than any previous year

The terminal will increase TPA's current 58 gates to 72, ramping up to serve 13 million more annual passengers by 2037. It's part three of the airport's multi-billion dollar master plan. Airport officials and developers are also studying demand and capacity to ensure curbs and roads flow smoothly. 

"They put it up so beautifully," commented John Millner, who lives in New Port Richey. "It's as if you're walking yourself and going through and seeing the new construction and the view and the simplicity of it."

Planners for the project are in it for the long haul to enure the airport keeps up as business and tourism takes off. 

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"The airport belongs to these communities, and the people of these communities need to understand what we're going to be looking at for growth and how we're going to finance it," Lopano said. 

This $787 million project will be paid for by federal and state grants, airport-issued bonds. 

TPA leaders are wanting to hear thoughts from the Tampa Bay area community. To send them your feedback, click here