TIA Ridership In 2005 Sets Record

TAMPA - A record number of passengers used Tampa International Airport in 2005, as the airport broke the 19 million mark with a 9.6 percent gain over 2004. The year marked the airport's third consecutive record for ridership, which airport officials expect will be surpassed this year.

Tampa International reported more than 9.5 million departing passengers - the official statistic that local surveys have shown reflects half the airport's total figure.

Tampa's 2005 growth rate is 7.1 percentage points more than the national growth rate of 2.5 percent, the Air Transport Association reported.

"This shows the Tampa Bay economy is doing well," airport Director Louis Miller said. "Growth slowed to 2.3 percent in December, but that still exceeded the national rate which declined [to] 1.2 percent for the month."

Miller attributed the slowdown in growth here and nationally to airlines downsizing.

"I expect Tampa International's passengers will increase between 3 percent and 3.5 percent in 2006," he said. That takes into account the industrywide increase in air fares this year analysts have estimated at 10 percent.

Tampa International ranked 29th nationwide in 2004 in passenger traffic. Rankings for 2005 are not available.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines remained the busiest carrier at Tampa International, with 22.7 percent of the market share. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines ranked second with 18.5 percent market share followed by Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways with 9.7 percent.

Reporter Ted Jackovics can be reached at (813) 259-7817.

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