Tampa International Airport held a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony on Feb. 7 for its new SkyConnect people-mover system and Rental Car Center, open to the public on Feb. 14.

  • SkyConnect links Main Terminal to Rental Car Center, Economy Garage
  • Ride takes less than 5 minutes
  • Construction on Phase 2 of improvements to begin soon

"This is a great day for Tampa Bay," said Airport CEO Joe Lopano. "This project is worthy of our history and will be admired just as we admire designs from the past."

The 1.5 mile SkyConnect system links the Main Terminal to the Economy Garage and a new Rental Car Center. From one end to the other, the ride takes less than five minutes, but Gov. Rick Scott said the economic effects of the project will be felt for years to come.

"It's making it a place where people want to work, it's making it a place where people want to come here as tourists," Gov. Scott said.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries built the SkyConnect trains at a factory in Japan, and the company's involvement doesn't end there.

"They will not only be supplying the trains, they will be contributing to local jobs because they will be maintaining and operating the trains," said Ken Okaniwa, Consul General.

The people-mover system and Rental Car Center are expected to cut down traffic around the airport by removing millions of vehicles from the roads each year.

With these elements complete, Phase 1 of the airport expansion is coming to a close.

"Without these improvements, there would be no more Super Bowls, there would be no College Football National Championships, there would be no Bollywood. It is this airport that helps people make those decisions," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

In addition to the new people-mover system and Rental Car Center, the airport has redone its Main Terminal transfer level, adding four outdoor terraces. TPA has also completed work on many of the 69 new shops and restaurants.

With Phase 1 wrapping up, the Airport will be ramping up Phase 2, which includes the construction of new curbsides and a commercial development area. Phase 3 will include the construction of a new airside with additional gates.

Once it's all finished, the Airport will have the ability to serve 34 million passengers a year.