Drop in TIA Departures Reverses Upward Trend

Mar. 10--TAMPA -- After 29 consecutive months of record growth, the number of passengers departing Tampa International Airport declined 0.4 percent to 749,600 last month, compared with February 2005.

The decline was not unexpected. Airlines in recent months have trimmed flights at Tampa and elsewhere to reduce capacity and possibly raise fares to overcome high fuel prices that have kept most airlines in the red.

"I guess the only good news that I can report is that we were only down by 0.4 percent when our average seats per day were down by 5.9 percent," Tampa International Airport Director Louis Miller said in the February traffic report to airline executives. That report was released Thursday.

Miller said passenger departures are up by 2.4 percent for the fiscal year that began in October, compared with the same period the year before.

Departures are 28.1 percent higher this year than in fiscal 2002.

Southwest Airlines continued as TIA's busiest carrier in February with 23.6 percent of the departing passengers. Delta Air Lines, including connection carriers, was second at 16.3 percent, followed by US Airways at 10.2 percent, American Airlines at 10.1 percent and Continental Airlines at 9 percent.