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The sluggish economy is taking its toll on Tampa International Airport. With passenger counts running about 1 percent down from last year, and the economy prompting conservation among travelers, TIA is looking at a $10 million revenue shortfall for this fiscal year.
Part of the shortfall will be covered by cost-saving measures such as reducing energy consumption, instituting a hiring freeze and restricting overtime work, cutting company travel and negotiating lower insurance costs. These steps will save the airport nearly $4 million this year, said Louis Miller, airport director, at the monthly board meeting Thursday.
But that still means the airport will have about $6 million less for debt service.
The airport budgeted $196 million in revenue this year against $92.7 million in expenses. Of the difference, $47.9 million will go to debt service, $11 million estimated for airline revenue sharing and about $44 million into capital improvements and reserves. Through the first five months of the fiscal year, the airport has earned $12.9 million toward its bottom line, or 29 percent of the budget.
Miller said he's hopeful the economy will turn around this summer, which would improve the financial forecast.
Also discussed at the board meeting were security changes planned for airport checkpoints. Without disclosing specifics, Gary Milano, federal security director for Tampa Bay for the Transportation Security Administration, said his agency was working with the airport to streamline security lines and make the process smoother without sacrificing safety. Those changes will be implemented in the next two to four months, but they won't be that noticeable to travelers, Milano said.
"Security is like a moving target," he said. "We're always trying to stay ahead of what the bad guys are thinking."