Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn sounded confident Tuesday night on the eve of his first overseas business trip to try to boost the city's economy — but the attempt to get Copa Airlines to fly directly from Panama City to Tampa International is hardly a done deal.
For years, a group of concerned citizens and members of the business community grew frustrated with former T.I.A. Executive Director Louis Miller for the lack of direct international flights out of Tampa, certainly in comparison with Orlando and Miami. But Miller steadfastly maintained that it was strictly a supply-and-demand issue, and the demand wasn't sufficient for those airlines to invest locally.
But that was then. Now Joe Lopano is running the airport, and he along with Port of Tampa executive director Richard Wainio and other local business executives will leave Wednesday night for Panama, and meet Thursday with Copa Airlines execs.