Friday, November 17, 2017
Business

Tampa International Airport’s cargo volume jumps, with more on the way

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — Over the last couple of years, the story of the double-digit growth of Tampa International Airport’s cargo business has been a story about Amazon.com.

Once the online retailing giant opened its distribution centers in Ruskin and Lakeland, it needed air service to keep those mega-warehouses stocked. It started with two jets a day in the fall of 2015 and has been growing since. Last week, it added a fifth.

The airport’s numbers reflect that expansion. In 2016, the volume of cargo coming into Tampa grew by more than 38 percent, to more than 587 million pounds. Trends point to a 20 percent increase this year, airport spokeswoman Janet Scherberger said.

And now the narrative and operational tempo are changing as a new player brings more daily cargo flights to the airport.

Last month, UPS moved its bay area operations from the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International, where it became the third major cargo handler at the airport, alongside Amazon and FedEx.

UPS began flying out of Tampa on Monday night, Oct. 16. It had been at the St. Pete-Clearwater airport since 1989, or shortly after the company launched its airline in 1988, and had several reasons for approaching Tampa International about the move:

• Tampa had a space inside a cargo building that was about six times bigger than the space UPS was using at St. Pete-Clearwater. That allowed UPS to move its package-sorting operations indoors. At the Pinellas airport, it had been using an outdoor mobile distribution center.

• An offsite postal handling facility is moving to the airport, which will reduce truck movements.

• Tampa has more room to expand, plus the ability to accommodate larger UPS jets during peak periods.

UPS flies four jets into and four jets out of Tampa every day, the same number that served St. Petersburg. Those four flights — two narrow-body Boeing 757s and two wide-body Airbus A300s — can together carry a total of 430,000 pounds of cargo. Tampa is one of eight airports in Florida served by UPS’s main air hub in Louisville, Ky.

Tampa Bay area customers won’t see any change, UPS Airlines public relations manager Jim Mayer said last week.

"We just switched airports," he said.

With UPS pulling out, however, the St. Pete-Clearwater airport has no cargo operations.

"This presents an opportunity to grow our passenger commercial air service," airport spokeswoman Michele Routh said in an email. That’s a topic certain to get close scrutiny as the Pinellas airport kicks off a study later this month to update its master plan for the first time since 2004.

Last year’s growth brought Tampa International Airport nearly $480,000 more in cargo revenue than it had budgeted, though that’s a small piece of the airport’s overall business. Cargo is expected to account for $4.2 million, or less than 2 percent, of airport revenues during the coming year. By comparison, concessions, parking and passenger-related revenues are budgeted to bring in $69.6 million, $68.3 million and $65.8 million, respectively.

Still, every little bit helps.

"It broadens our revenue stream," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who sits on the board of the Hillsborough Aviation Authority. "I think almost, like the port, the more lines of business that you have, the better off you are."

The growth in cargo is unrelated to the airport’s nearly $1 billion master planned expansion. That program, now under construction, is largely focused on passenger service and amenities, internal airport transportation and adding or upgrading options for renting cars, shopping and dining.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tampa International Airport morphing into a mini-city unto itself

But the airport is encouraging organic growth in cargo in other ways.

This spring, aviation authority board members approved a change to their air service incentive program to attract more domestic cargo freight business by agreeing to waive fees and reimburse carriers for marketing expenses. Previously, only international carriers of cargo had been eligible for the incentives.

One last note about where Tampa ranks in the air cargo ecosystem: Tampa’s cargo business grew enough last year to pass Fort Lauderdale on volume, but its cargo operations are only the 39th biggest in the United States and nowhere near the largest in Florida.

Orlando handles almost twice as much cargo by weight.

And Miami?

More than 13 times as much.

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

 
Comments
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The Washington PostThe main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Updated: 2 hours ago
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

The tough hit Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long lived, as predicted by economists. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 job it lost in September. According to state figures released Friday, t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Plotting a shopping strategy for the holiday weekend? Here’s a look at holiday store opening hours for some major retailers:Thanksgiving8 a.m.: Kmart1 p.m.: JCPenney4 p.m.: GameStop5 p.m.: Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys "R" Us, Kohl’s6 p.m.: Old Navy, Target...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the ...
Published: 11/17/17
Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

LARGO — Driving down West Bay Drive, you may notice some changes to downtown Largo.A new 29-unit apartment complex on Ridge Road stands finished and ready for residents. South of the complex, land that was formerly home to a community of rundown cott...
Published: 11/17/17
In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

Despite the budget cuts, the attempts to repeal and replace, and reports of sharp rises in premiums, Floridians and other Americans are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at record rates this year.Enrollment has surged 47 p...
Updated: 3 hours ago
A Santa flight academy? Malls pull out stops to counter online shopping

A Santa flight academy? Malls pull out stops to counter online shopping

TAMPA — One of Santa’s helpers warns the grown ups to stand back. Sawyer Baker is about to be fitted for his virtual flight academy suit.The four-year-old from Safety Harbor holds his arms straight out, just like he’s told, and sees a moving, mirror ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa’s historic Kress block sells to the Wilson Company for $9 million

Tampa’s historic Kress block sells to the Wilson Company for $9 million

TAMPA — The historic city block containing the old S.H. Kress & Co. department store and a former F.W. Woolworth’s, where 1960s sit-ins led to the peaceful desegregation of the city’s lunch counters, was sold this week for $9 million.The buyer is the...
Published: 11/16/17