Tampa International Airport announces return of more flights, launches online passenger tools

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is typically one of the busiest in the year at Tampa International Airport, but as more people decide to stay home this year over safety concerns, you can expect travel numbers to be down significantly. 

This past June, TPA averaged 175 flights a day. Compare this to an average of more than 500 flights a day during the same month in 2019. However, the airport says it is expecting increased traffic in July as airlines prepare to bring back hundreds of flights to and from Tampa this month, including the first departing international flight from Tampa since March. 

Airlines are adding back more than 1,700 flights out of TPA in July. In a June 30 announcement, the airport said the move significantly increases service to existing destinations and re-establishes service to several cities cut off from Tampa during lockdowns.

Starting July 2 Silver Airlines will begin nonstop flights to Nassau, Bahamas three times a week, marking it the first international flight departing from Tampa since the pandemic went into overdrive in the U.S. 

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To help passengers keep track, the airport is rolling out two new digital tools: 

The first is a site that lists all of TPA’s nonstop destinations. The page tells travelers which airlines fly the routes or when service is expected to return. It will be updated weekly.

The second tool, called TPA Ready, is a webpage with everything travelers need to know about how to fly safely during this outbreak. There's pre-flight information and it also lays out the steps the airport is taking to keep travelers protected. 

According to its website, Tampa International Airport says it has hired extra cleaning staff, using cutting-edge disinfectants on surfaces to protect passengers from contracting the new coronavirus.

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Travelers will see plastic shields in high-traffic areas. Face masks are now mandatory for passengers and employees. Travelers will also notice social distancing markers on the floor to keep everyone spread apart. Airport staff are also reducing seating all throughout the airport. 

The return of more flights comes less than a month after the airport announced it is hitting pause on more than $900 million of planned construction due to the dramatic drop in air travel. A large piece of the delayed project includes the Airside D plan, slated to add 16 gates and coming with a price tag of nearly $700 million.

The other $200 million in paused projects will come from the airport's overall capital improvement program. TPA says right now it's looking like a multi-year delay. 

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According to the International Air Transport Association, domestic travel within countries worldwide declined more than 79% during the month of May compared to the same month a year ago. In April, it was worse, dropping more than 86 %. 

TPA’s announcement this week includes plans to have 8,700 arriving and departing flights combined this month. That's an average of 280 daily flights