People in Orlando envy the Tampa Bay area's beaches and sports franchises, while those in Tampa flock to Orlando's theme parks -- and more frequently than Tampa officials would like -- to Orlando International Airport for its plentiful international flights.
In many cases, the better offerings of both regions are complementary, and comparisons are more a matter of bragging rights as residents and visitors shuttle between the two regions.
However, what takes shape at Orlando International Airport grabs the attention of Tampa leaders. They are keenly aware of competition for regional job creation that air service to major destinations, especially international cities, can attract and support.
Both airports are positioning themselves to maintain their status among top U.S. airports in annual passenger surveys, enhance regional development in their areas and gain a competitive edge where possible.
Tampa International officials in April approved a $2.5 billion master plan update whose programs through 2028 include new facilities for international flights, a ground transportation station at the airport, and a multimodal terminal served by a people mover airport link expected to be built in Westshore.
Orlando International's master plan update proposes a massive expansion program with the ambitious goal of becoming recognized as the state's preeminent transportation center.
Orlando hopes to achieve that by adding a second main terminal south of the current one and a rail station serving the proposed All Aboard Florida passenger train between Orlando and Miami, as well as Orlando area light rail and commuter rail systems.
"The (All Aboard Florida) project defines us as the center of regional transportation and will transform the way visitors and residents travel between two of Florida's most populated and visited regions, Miami and Orlando," GOAA Board Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher said.
All Aboard Florida would provide the airport with a leg up on Tampa, which lost its opportunity for a rail link with Orlando and Miami when Gov. Rick Scott rejected a high-speed rail proposal in 2011.
Serving Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando International, All Aboard Florida is expected to be packed with tourists while generating increasing business ridership along Florida's east coast.
Phil Brown, executive director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said he is attentive to what the airports in Tampa, Miami and elsewhere are doing as Orlando International moves forward.
"I think it's significant to the state that this will be the first airport with multi-modal transportation close in, on the airport," Brown said. "We try to market that we are in the middle of the most well-known international destination in the world, and that Orlando also has a burgeoning medical and meetings centers cluster."
The master plan for Orlando's South Terminal Complex would further enhance the image of the airport that serves about 35 million annual passengers -- twice as many as Tampa -- as well as provide needed space for growth.
A primary goal is to maintain Orlando's tourism image reflected in the slogan: "Orlando International Airport, The Orlando Experience," and to contribute to the region's economic development both through plentiful air service and projects targeting business opportunities.
That's not unlike the strategy Tampa International and other airports espouse, but Orlando International has advantages with its tourism draw of 57 million visitors, mid-state location and plentiful land.
Orlando's facilities are expected to promote business growth in and beyond the 13,297-acre airport, with four times the land as Tampa International.
"There is an interest globally in creating 'airport cities' next to airports," Brown said. "That provides revenue not generated by airlines but by people who do business near the airport. We focus a lot on what we can do to develop non-airline revenue."
Plan includes about $2.5 billion in projects designed to increase airport capacity, and more than $1.6 billion largely for maintenance projects.
-- June 07--TAMPA -- Bus transportation serving Tampa International Airport could become more efficient and service expanded if airport and HART planners agree to relocate a proposed bus...