TAMPA - Parking rates at Tampa International Airport could increase as early as July 1 to help pay for a new remote garage as officials also try to redirect where customers park.
Airport officials said Thursday that they may raise daily parking rates in four ways:
¦ From $7 to $9 for the economy parking garage.
¦ From $14 to $15 for the long-term parking garage.
¦ From $18 to $20 for the short-term garage.
¦ From $24 to $25 for valet parking.
Airport Director Louis Miller said he likely will make that recommendation to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority by June to increase rates effective July 1.
Miller said that eventually he also will recommend raising the daily rate for remote economy garage parking to $10. That could occur either when the airport's second remote garage begins operation in November 2008 or when that facility is completed in May 2009.
"Our parking rates are way low compared with other airports and they would still be low," Miller said.
For example, plans to increase the daily rate of $15 at Tampa's long-term garage near the main terminal would create a rate that still would be considerably less than some other major airports. For instance, similar parking is as high as $30 at Miami's airport, $36 at Fort Lauderdale's and $72 at Denver's, according to research by airport officials.
Whatever the scenario, Tampa's airport would maintain one hour of free parking at the short-term garage, Miller said. That system helps prevent motorists who otherwise drop off or pick up fliers at curbside from clogging the main terminal.
The possible fee increases come as growth continues at the airport, which already has more covered parking spaces than any airport in Florida and is second only to Orlando International Airport in total spaces. Tampa's airport offers 19,505 parking spaces, including covered, surface and overflow lots. Various projects will expand capacity to 24,045 total spaces by May 2009.
That includes the second economy garage, which was approved in December to be built adjacent to the current economy garage near the airport's post office. That new economy garage - which would double the number of economy spaces to 11,083 - originally had been scheduled to open in 2010. But continued growth at the airport spurred the aviation authority in January to move up the opening date.
The airport currently has three parking garages:
¦ A short-term garage on top of the main terminal where the highest rates are charged.
¦ A long-term garage adjacent to the terminal where rates are lower.
¦ A remote economy garage east of the airport post office, where the lowest rates are offered and passengers take a shuttle bus to the main terminal.
In other business, the aviation authority approved new contracts with The Limo Inc. to provide airport limousine services in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
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The new parking garage would increase the airport's garage spaces to 21,344.
The airport stands to gain an estimated $200,000 revenue from the increases, according to Fred Piccolo, president and CEO of the airport.
The airport has successfully reduced curbside congestion in recent months with a number of initiatives.
Meanwhile, parkers using long-term lots will gain free time, with the grace period ballooning from 30 minutes to two hours starting next month.