Tampa International Airport has been named one of the top 20 fastest-growing midsize airports in North America.
Travel data company OAG ranked TIA as No. 20 on its list, released Tuesday. The company noted that the airport grew 8 percent year-over-year to 12,075,754 departing seats in May 2017 through April 2018 from 11,149,907 in the 2016-17 period.
OAG stated that much of the increase at many of the fastest-growing hubs, which have more than 20 million departing seats, and midsized airports, which have between 3 million and 20 million seats, can be attributed to the growth of low cost carrier Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) in their markets.
Southwest is TIA’s largest carrier with approximately 34 percent market share of the airport’s annual passengers. The airline served 747,854 passengers in March 2018 alone. That represents a 6.5 percent increase over March 2017 for the Dallas-based carrier, which saw its flights to Cuba grow by 18 percent in that month.
In fact, March was a record-setting month for passengers at TIA, with 2,192,602 travelers passing through its gates. That number beat the previous high set in March 2017 by 213,358 passengers — a 10.8 percent jump.
Several airlines contributed to that record month. However, since the beginning of the year, Southwest launched a new nonstop route connecting Tampa with San Diego on Jan. 8. It also introduced new, seasonal nonstop service to Omahaonce a week on Saturdays, that ran March 10 to April 28.
Southwest has more service at TIA on the horizon, extending its West Coast push. Southwest starts daily nonstop service between Tampa and Los Angelesbeginning Aug. 7. Southwest will be the third airline at TIA to offer nonstop service to the West Coast hub.
TIA is expecting a strong showing for summertime, predicting a 4 percent year-over-year increase in passengers, or approximately 5 million, between June 1 and Aug. 31.
The airport saw record passenger numbers of 19,624,284 for 2017, surpassing the old record that occurred a decade ago.
Source: Business Journal