Tampa International Airport plans for large summer crowds with fewer employees

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, the Tampa International Airport is preparing for its biggest spike in travelers since the start of the pandemic.

TIA officials tell 8 On Your Side they expect to see 65,000 passengers come through the airport each day over Memorial Day weekend. That’s up to 15 times more travelers than the same time last year, when the world was in the middle of a pandemic.

“We were supposed to come last year and do this, and then COVID-19 hit — so, we did it this year,” said traveler Nancy Luck. “It’s like we’ve been hibernating for so long, so, we’re excited. It’s the first of many trips I have planned this summer.”

“It’s more than we projected so we are really trying to staff up here at the airport — make sure we have enough people in place to get people through the airport smoothly,” said TIA spokeswoman Emily Nipps.

Nipps said the airport is down hundreds of employees and travelers are returning faster than expected.

“About six months ago we didn’t know there was going to be vaccination roll out that’s as quick as it was—people are starting to feel more safe we’re seeing the COVID-19 numbers come down,” she said.

Nipps predicts the airport will see a high number of travelers throughout the summer.

“It’s possible that we could see, in the next year or two, even more travelers than we saw before—it’s very likey actually,” she said.

Nipps suggested travelers allow two hours to park and make it through security.

She said masks are still required inside TIA and on all flights. The federal mask mandate is in place through September.

The airport is accepting applications on its website.

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