Tampa International Airport shows off construction plans

Tampa International Airport officials took us behind the construction walls to get a first look at the billion dollar renovation that's underway.

The new addition to the terminal means more amentities and more space to relax before your flight.

The centerpiece of the terminal expansion includes new shops and restaurants, redesgined rental car facilities and a passenger tram system.

Phase one is well underway.  Phases two and three would add an interntiaonal terminal and move the air traffic control tower.  They're on hold pending funding.

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor and Representative David Jolly were on hand to tour the construction.  It didn't take long for the talk to turn to politics. "The greatest hurdle to expansion right here at the Tampa airport and right here in the Tampa Bay area is actually the federal government," said Rep. Jolly.

You may not have noticed, but every airline ticket comes with a $4.50 facilities charge.  The Federal Aviation Administration takes the money, and then decides how much to give back to each airport.

Congressman Jolly is proposing legislation to remove the F.A.A. from that process and leave it up to the airports to charge what they want.

If Jolly's draft becomes law, Tampa International Airport would raise the fee to $6.00 to pay for the next two phases of construction.

Traveler's we spoke to said they wouldn't mind paying a little more to keep the airport convenient.
"Laguardia and JFK are terrible. This is a much better airport. I'd pay a couple dollars. Not a whole lot, but I'd pay a couple more dollars. I wouldn't mind doing that," said Florita Weems.

T.I.A.  already ranks as one of the best airports in the world. This first phase of the construction is set to be finished in 2017.