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Tampa Airport CEO Joe Lopano Sees Bright Future For Air Travel

Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano
Tampa International Airport
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Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano speaks at the launch of the airport's COVID testing program.

Lopano says passenger traffic at TPA is on track to surpass pre-pandemic levels.

To say the past year has been challenging for the airline industry would be an understatement. According to the International Air Transport Association, the industry lost $126 billion in 2020 and is on track to lose about $48 billion this year.

At Tampa International Airport, passenger traffic declined 96 percent. The airport received millions in federal aid to get through the worst of the downturn.

While challenges remain, airport CEO Joe Lopano is optimistic. He says passenger numbers are starting to return to pre-pandemic levels.

WUSF's Bradley George talks to Lopano about how airlines and airports are adapting to a new normal — from keeping travelers safe to keeping restaurants and shops staffed in a tight labor market.

Lopano also talks about his career in aviation, and discusses how supersonic travel could be making a comeback.

I was born and raised in North Carolina, but my career in public radio has taken me all over the Southeast: Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham. Along the way, I’ve reported for NPR, Here and Now, BBC, and The Takeaway. I’ve also done quite a few stories for Marketplace.