Bizav Traffic Fumbles for Big Game in Tampa

 - February 11, 2021, 1:00 PM
Being adjacent to Raymond James Stadium, the venue for Super Bowl LV, Tampa International Airport provided game-going arrivals a quick and easy way to reach the stadium. For a variety of reasons, not least of them the Covid pandemic, private aviation traffic this year was down compared with the other years the city has hosted the championship contest. (Image: Sheltair Aviation)

Last weekend’s Super Bowl proved to be less of a magnet for business aviation than it had been in past years, due to the continuing effects of the Covid pandemic and other factors. To distance spectators, the NFL imposed a limitation on game tickets, curtailing attendance at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium to less than half capacity. As well, in a Super Bowl first, the game was played in the home stadium of the eventual victor, the Buccaneers, eliminating the need for their diehard fans to travel. Also, due to limitations on gatherings and social-distancing requirements, many of the VIP sponsor parties and advertising-related events that normally take place around the game were eliminated this year.

The three major airports in the Tampa area—Tampa International (TPA), St. Petersburg-Clearwater International (PIE), and Tampa Executive (VDF)—reported 683 business aircraft arrivals from February 1 through 7, according to TraqPak data from industry data firm Argus International. That contrasts with last year’s totals for the game in Miami, which took place before the virus became entrenched in the U.S. and saw more than three times as many such arrivals spread over the local airports.

WingX noted that last year, 80 percent of the visitors arrived from out of state, with 250 international arrivals, 100 of which were large jets. This year, more than half of the arrivals came from within Florida.

While Signature Flight Support—which is currently undergoing sensitive acquisition discussions—declined to state how busy its area FBOs were for the game weekend, Florida-based Sheltair reported that it had 183 slot arrivals at TPA from February 3 through game day, along with another 56 at PIE and 58 at Lakeland Linder International Airport.