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Officials say TIA is ready for convention-week rush

Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 10:53 PM

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The taxi companies have more drivers, the car-rental businesses have more inventory and the airport has been spiffed up.

Tampa International Airport is as ready as it will ever be for the Republican National Convention, airport officials said Friday.

The Aug. 27-30 convention will strain the airport's resources for about two weeks.

TIA managers expect arrivals to be at their peak from the Friday through Sunday before the convention begins.

High traffic departure days will be Aug. 30 through Sept. 3, which is Labor Day.

Airport personnel will ramp up their overall activities between Aug. 23 and Sept. 3, Tampa International vice president of operations John Tiliacos said.

"All passenger facilities will be fully staffed," Tiliacos said. That will include additional Transportation Security Administration security screeners, he said.

The airport's incident command center will be "partially activated" to oversee operations, maintenance, police and security activities.

Airport officials estimate the majority of the 50,000 convention visitors and an estimated 15,000 news media and news support staff will use Tampa International Airport. In addition, officials say 10,000 protestors could descend upon the Tampa area.

"It won't be like the Super Bowls — we will be seeing fewer charter planes," airport spokeswoman Janet Zink said.

Among special operations planned for the 2012 RNC:

The airport has completed numerous projects to present an upgraded face for the convention.

Ten of the 16 main terminal restrooms will have been modernized to "luxury hotel" standards in time for the RNC. Curbside check-in, baggage, signage and lighting have been improved.

Tampa International has recruited 100 volunteers to staff four booths on the baggage level of the main terminal to provide information to airport patrons. The project will continue to expand beyond the convention.

Despite federally mandated airspace restrictions Aug 26-30, commercial flights at Tampa International and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport will not be affected, officials said.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7817

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