Tampa-Zurich flights raise TIA's international profile - FOX 13 News

Tampa-Zurich flights raise TIA's international profile

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  • Tampa-Zurich flights raise TIA's international profileMore>>

  • $27.6 million expansion proposed for Tampa airport

    $27.6 million expansion proposed for Tampa airport

    Tampa International Airport plans to spend $27.6 million to expand its oldest airside terminal to accommodate increased international flights and eliminate bottlenecks at security gates and baggage claim areas.
    Tampa International Airport plans to spend $27.6 million to expand its oldest airside terminal to accommodate increased international flights and eliminate bottlenecks at security gates and baggage claim areas.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The second announcement in three days of expanded air service at Tampa International Airport bodes well for a planned $2.5 billion airport expansion.

Edelweiss Air announced Friday that for six months next year, it will fly non-stop between Zurich, Switzerland and Tampa twice a week. It currently has one flight a week.

Further additions are possible.

"We have come to the conclusion that the Tampa Bay area is actually an underserved route and it has a lot of potential to grow," said Michael Trestl, Edelweiss's director of strategy.

Trestl noted the airline is studying new connections between Zurich and several eastern European cities, with the thought of further utilizing TIA's excess capacity. Trestl said getting through U.S. Customs at TIA is especially impressive.

"The infrastructure here in Tampa is unrivaled anywhere in the United States," he said.

Earlier this week, Copa Airlines announced expanded non-stop service between Tampa and Panama City, which serves as a hub for dozens of Latin American markets. Visitors around the world are already attracted to Pinellas County's beaches. More air service means more foreign visitors, who tend to stay longer and spend more money.

Even with just one non-stop flight a week to Zurich, "we have hard numbers that show that last year's Swiss numbers almost doubled," said Pinellas Tourism Director D.T. Minich, "And that was with a partial year of service."

TIA's chief executive officer said the full airport expansion could create thousands of construction jobs. So many new jobs that "there's actually not enough people here in the Tampa Bay area to build this project," Joe Lopano told FOX 13 News.

"So we're going to have to bring people in from Texas and Louisiana. They'll move here and work on this project for 15 years," Lopano said.

Initial work is already underway on a new rental car building connected to the terminal by a new people mover system. Further plans include a new international airside, plus new office buildings, hotels and retail stores outside the terminal.

"The whole south area by the post office will become a little airport city," Lopano said.

But only if international air service continues to expand.

"If we don't see international growth, we don't have to build an international terminal," Lopano said. "But if we see a lot of international growth, we'll dial it up and move it up sooner."

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