Investor Spotlight: Tampa International Airport
December 21, 2023
Tampa International Airport serves as the Gateway to the West Coast of Florida, with nonstop domestic and international flights to more than 90 destinations. The airport typically serves over 25 million passengers annually, making it one of Florida’s largest airports. TPA is an economic engine for the region, generating over $14 billion a year in output and supporting more than 121,000 jobs, according to a 2019 study by the Florida Department of Transportation. The airport’s system also includes three general aviation airports in Hillsborough County.
The Airport has received top awards at the state, national and international level, including being ranked #1 in North America and fifth in the world in customer satisfaction among airports of its size.
Joe Lopano, Chief Executive Officer
Joe Lopano was appointed on January 1, 2011 as Tampa International Airport’s Chief Executive Officer. A true visionary of the industry with more than 40 years of commercial aviation experience, he has led tremendous growth and service expansions at TPA. Prior to accepting the CEO role at America’s Favorite Airport, he worked at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for 14 years as Executive Vice President for Marketing and Terminal Management and held leadership positions at Continental Airlines.
Lopano serves on the boards of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council (2024 Chair) and the Hillsborough County Transportation Planning Organization. He is a member of the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society and a past Honorary Commander at MacDill Air Force Base. Lopano is a graduate of Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class 30. Nationally, he serves on the Airports Council International World Governing Board.
1. You’ve just taken the reigns as EDC chair. What are your top priorities for the EDC to tackle over the next fiscal year?
In my time as EDC chair, I hope to foster an improvement in regional efforts that connect Tampa with its surrounding counties and areas, particularly as it relates to transportation options. As we continue to boom in population and grow our business and residential landscapes, advocating with one voice to fund transit projects for the Tampa Bay area will be critical in the coming years.
Another priority will be touting the achievements of the Tampa Bay EDC to all of our stakeholders. It’s important to help our investors and community understand the EDC’s role in attracting and retaining businesses, bringing high-paying jobs to our area and ensuring Tampa remains a thriving hub for people to work, play and live.
2. Tampa International Airport has been undergoing several expansion projects over the last several years. What’s the latest and what’s next?
To accommodate the additional 13 million annual passengers that we expect by 2037, we are now in the design and planning phase of Airside D, TPA’s first new airside terminal in more than 17 years. It will be a 16-gate domestic and international terminal equipped with the latest technology and amenities, including new concessions and a Customs screening area for arriving international passengers.
Beyond that, we are always looking at how we can best accommodate the next wave of travelers and transportation on the horizon, looking 20 to 30 years into the future. Urban air mobility – or “air taxis” – will need dedicated space, as will the potential for expanded rail and roadways, so we need to preserve space on our property for these types of projects.
3. I think everyone can agree that TPA is best airport in the country, and you have the rankings to prove it. But what makes it the best airport in your opinion?
The built environment is brilliant, and for that we can thank George Bean and the visionary team that planned TPA and its facilities in the 1960s. The ease of movement, convenience and general design of the Airport cannot be beat.
But truly, the real key to being one of America’s most beloved airports is the people. The TPA team is outstanding, as anyone who has worked with any of our departments can attest. These are people who are very proud of their Airport, and they show up every day to ensure the best possible experience for our travelers and business partners.
4. Why is it important for the local business community to continue to support economic development efforts?
It’s very simple: The stronger the local economy is, the better it is for everyone. Successful economic development efforts translate directly to more jobs, more money and more wealth created. The entire community prospers when our local economy prospers.
5. What do you love about living in Tampa?
As one of the many Tampa residents who came from somewhere else, I can say that it’s a very welcoming community. You can be a part of anything you want to be a part of if you put the effort into it.
I recently attended the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament hosted in Tampa at Amalie Arena. It’s 3 p.m., the Mayor is there, all of my friends from around the city are there, cheering on this incredible talent in your town. Where else does that happen? It’s a wonderful place where incredible things happen, yet it still feels like home.