Influx of private jets for Super Bowl will make TPA busiest airport in U.S.

Just about everything around Tampa is busier this weekend, including the sky. Hundreds of private planes are landing at Tampa International Airport and nearby airports ahead of kickoff.

As soon as the Super Bowl wraps up on the ground it will be game time in the sky.

"We will be the busiest airport in the United States, if not the world during that time period," said Brett Fay, director of general aviation with the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

It's the culmination of more than a year's-worth of planning. At the height of this weekend, they'll have more than 200 corporate jets parked on the grounds of TPA. 


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To make extra room, they had to close the crosswind runway and multiple taxiways.

Each arrival and departure is precisely timed under an FAA slot program, but officials say commercial flights will not be affected. 

"We've actually brought in a temporary air traffic control tower that's working on a ramp advisory tower to help get people to and from the runway in this environment and do it safely," Fay said.

It will be all hands on deck, a welcome rush in traffic following a year that saw a significant dip in general aviation activities.

"There'll be over 250,000 gallons of fuel that will be sold just for this event alone," Fay said. "So, it's a lot of good dollars that are coming into this community and to the businesses that are here at the airport that support this type of activity."

Sunday night, as the last pieces of confetti fly, look up and check your flight radar apps because there will be plenty to see just west of Ray Jay. 

"That's when the Super Bowl really starts for us. It's going to be a very busy time. There'll be lots of folks wanting to depart probably into 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the morning, "Fay said. "It's really exciting and the entire team here takes a lot of pride in what we do."