Tampa International Airport has its sights set on securing new flights to Europe, Latin America and the western United States.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority voted unanimously to update and extend the airport’s incentive program, which is used to help lure new airlines and routes. As part of the presentation given to the aviation authority board Thursday, airport staff shared the top markets they plan to go after next.
In Europe, the targets are new flights to Dublin, Amsterdam and Manchester, England. Manchester is the most underserved European route to Tampa Bay, said Chris Minner, the airport’s vice president of marketing. He also noted that the international airline KLM recently resumed direct service from Miami International Airport to Amsterdam after a five year absence.
In Latin America, the airport hopes to land new flights to Lima, Peru; Bogota, Colombia; and Mexico City, building on the service Copa Airlines already offers to Panama City, Panama.
Domestic goals include new nonstop service to San Diego, Portland, and Salt Lake City.
“There are many residents who own real estate in both Tampa Bay and Salt Lake City,” Minner said.
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He cited the success of the nonstop service to Seattle from Tampa on Alaska Airlines, which “has been full since day one” since the service started in 2014. Nonstop service to San Francisco will start in February.
The airport’s incentive program waives fees and offers cash reimbursement for marketing promotions of new flights. In addition to incentives offered by the airport, Visit Florida, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater and Visit Tampa Bay often put up cash to help sweeten the pot for new airline service.
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Since the Tampa airport introduced the incentive program in 2010, international traffic from Tampa has grown to 417,000 passengers, or 113 percent, Minner said.
“Incentive programs have become a standard in the industry,” Minner told the board. “We have enjoyed a very effective program. We’re asking your permission to continue it forward.”
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The updated policy would extend the program into 2021. It would extend domestic and international short-haul incentives from one-year to year-year terms. This is key is helping secure domestic flights on low cost carriers like Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, Minner said.
Tampa Bay Times, Justine Griffin, Times Staff Writer