Director has sky-high vision for Tampa’s airport

Director has sky-high vision for Tampa’s airport
By TED JACKOVICS | The Tampa Tribune

Tampa International Airport’s new director gained board approval Thursday for an expanded program using consultants to support domestic and international air service growth.

In his first public meeting since taking the help at TIA job, former Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport executive Joe Lopano said evaluating senior staff members and seeking ideas to bring in more money and cut expenses will be among his initial tasks.

Lopano said he respects the work staff members have done at the airport, which enjoys high national rankings among passengers.

“You don’t have a great airport without great employees,” Lopano said after the board meeting. “I need to listen, learn and understand what it takes to make this market grow.”

Lopano said he owes it to employees to take time to evaluate performance, but he made it clear he wants to approach business expansion at a supersonic pace. That will include a visit with Air Tran Airways officials at their Orlando headquarters this month.

“They called him Hurricane Joe in Dallas, and it looks like hurricane season is here early,” said Trudy Crason, the airport’s director of air service development, in outlining Lopano’s growth strategy.

The first order of business Thursday involved a strategy to establish two teams of consultants to help advance air service recruitment. The teams would be available as needed to provide airlines with information to support the airport’s quest for more flights.

The board approved spending $1 million â $200,000 a year over the next five years â for Seabury Airline Planning group LLC to handle domestic route service analysis and air service incentives, and for Oliver Wyman Inc. to provide an international air service plan and analysis for European, Latin American and Caribbean carriers.

The board also approved a $100,000 allocation over five years to pay SH&E Inc. for an economic impact study.

One step toward bringing in more money could come through the board’s approval to add to its master plan a concept to open a gas station and convenience store at the airport.

No timetable was established for the service station, but a contract was approved to place vending machines at the airport’s cell phone waiting lot.

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