TAMPA, Fla. — Like many airports across the country, Tampa International Airport is seeing a sharp decline in air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

  • Tampa International Airport down 97 percent in passengers during pandemic
  • Airport officials using time with less traffic to ramp up renovation projects and prepare for when travelers return
  • CORONAVIRUS LIVE UPDATES: In the Tampa Bay area

Airport officials are using the current lack of traffic to its advantage to get a jump on various projects. 

"It's kind of an alarming number these days," said Airport CEO Joe Lopano, of the lack of traffic at the facility. "(A) 97 percent decrease in passengers. We never closed, we've always operated but we're not at a much reduced level."

Lopano said the airport also is preparing for the new normal once travelers return. Covid-19 will have lasting effects on how the airport looks and conducts business throughout the terminals and facilities.

Officials have launched a comprehensive, airport-wide effort dubbed "TPA Ready" that mandates best practices for social distancing, mask usage, plastic shield barriers, surface disinfection and touchless transactions, all designed to slow or stop the spread of germs and viruses. 

The facility also will strongly urge passengers and guests to modify behaviors and follow guidelines designed to keep themselves and others healthy and safe.

"While we know there’s an eagerness among our travelers and employees to resume our normal lives again, that new normal may look very different than what we were accustomed to pre-COVID 19," Lopano said. "Keeping people safe is always our top priority at TPA, and as people plan to come back, we want to ensure we are offering an environment that is clean, healthy and ready for business."

Some of the key changes being implemented in coming weeks include:

PLASTIC SHIELDS: Plastic or acrylic shields will be installed in key high-traffic areas, including ticket counters, TSA security checkpoints, boarding gate and concessions counters

FACE MASKS: All employees will be required to wear face masks

SOCIAL DISTANCING MARKERS: Thousands of ground markings and signs will give guidance on six-foot distancing ticket counters, boarding gates, shuttles, SkyConnect, concessions counters, U.S. Customs, and other common areas. Airport officials also are asking anyone picking up passengers not to come inside the terminal but have them come outside to be picked up at the curb

REDUCED SEATING: Seating will be reduced, blocked off or spaced apart in places like gate areas, dining areas, work stations and Main Terminal greeting sections to promote distancing

CLEANING AND SANITATION: TPA is employing additional cleaning crew staff, using cutting-edge disinfection applications and products on surfaces, hand rails and elevator buttons, and adding more hand sanitizers throughout the Airport

"People still want to travel," Lopano said. "But they have to wait until they're confident and comfortable in their safety and security." 

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