Skift Take

Tampa's growth is a clear sign that Florida's gulf coast has improved and that the state's economy is once again on the upswing.

Tampa International Airport expects the coming fiscal year will bring more passengers through its terminals than in any year since 2008.

The gain over the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is predicted to be 2 percent, for a total of about 17.2 million passengers.

The projections for 2013, if they hold true, would reflect an improvement in overall passengers in each of the past three years.

Airport officials released a proposed annual budget Friday that airport Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano characterized as a “growth trajectory,” compared with a “turnaround” budget in 2012.

Lopano said the airport budgets should not be affected by Thursday’s announcement that PEMCO World Air Services would lay off 474 of an estimated 600 employees at the two airliner maintenance hangars it leases at the airport.

“PEMCO is current on its payments and we hope they will grow and restore their business,” Lopano said Friday.

The aviation authority gets about $1 million in lease revenue annually from PEMCO.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board will consider in September the fiscal 2013 budget that projects a 3.6 percent increase to $183.1 million in operating revenue and a 4.7 percent increase to $98.6 million in operating expenses.

Excess money will be directed toward debt reduction, airline revenue sharing and the airport’s share of paying for capital improvements, including $500,000 for a landscaped gateway at the airport’s entrance to replace the metal signage.

The proposed operating budget includes $45.6 million for budgets and salaries, including 33 jobs with salaries of more than $100,000.

Airport officials want to add 13 positions next year, increasing the staff from 573 to 586, after having eliminated positions through attrition during recent years.

The aviation authority on Friday also approved a contract with a team of legal firms in Panama City and Tampa to pursue a $1.7 million claim against BP Inc. for a decline in airport revenue from lost travel following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill.

The agreement specifies 20 percent costs for legal counsel on a contingency basis pending the airport getting money from BP.

(c)2012 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services. 


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