|St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport|
|Owner||County of Pinellas|
|Serves||Tampa Bay Area|
|Focus city for||Allegiant Air|
|Elevation AMSL||11 ft / 3 m|
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (IATA: PIE, ICAO: KPIE, FAA LID: PIE) is a public/military airport in Pinellas County, Florida serving the Tampa Bay Area. It is nine miles north of downtown St. Petersburg, seven miles southeast of Clearwater, and seventeen miles southwest of Tampa.
It is included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017-2021, in which it is categorized as a small-hub primary commercial service facility. In 2014 it showed double-digit growth and handled more than one million passengers, setting a record.
Most scheduled airline traffic in the Tampa Bay Area uses Tampa International Airport (TPA), ten miles (16 km) east, but St. Pete-Clearwater remains a destination for low-cost carriers. St. Pete-Clearwater is a focus city for Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air. PIE is also less busy than Tampa, and is frequently used by pilots of private planes and executive jets.
The airport uses "Tampa Bay The Easy Way" as an advertising slogan and Fly2PIE in reference to its three-letter IATA and FAA codes.
The airport is on the west shoreline of Tampa Bay, six miles (10 km) north of St. Petersburg, Florida (the "birthplace of commercial air transportation"). Barely a decade after the pioneer flight of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1903, the first tickets for airline travel were sold by the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line of Tony Jannus to fare-paying passengers. Using a Benoist XIV amphibious aircraft, the inaugural flight took place from a location near the downtown St. Petersburg Pier. Mayor Abram C. Pheil of St. Petersburg and Mae Peabody of Dubuque, Iowa, were the first passengers, flying across the bay to Tampa and, according to a United Press account, reportedly reaching the maximum speed of 75 miles per hour during the flight. Other reports indicate that they reached an altitude of 50 feet (15 m).
This was the beginning of commercial air transportation anywhere in the world and is commemorated by a replica of the Benoist aircraft and a plaque at the airport terminal baggage claim area. Another replica is displayed at the St. Petersburg Museum of History adjacent to the Pier. Since 1991, the terminal holds the archives of the Florida Aviation Historical Society.
Construction of the airport at its present site started in March 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the airport was acquired by the United States Army Air Forces, which used it as a military flight training base assigned to Third Air Force.
The 304th Fighter Squadron, a combat training unit of the 337th Fighter Group based P-40 Warhawks and, later, P-51 Mustangs at Pinellas Army Airfield (as it was then known) for the duration of World War II. Antisubmarine patrols against German U-boats in the Gulf of Mexico were also flown from the airfield.
To commemorate the airport's vital role during that conflict, a plaque was dedicated at the airport terminal in 1994 by the P-51 Fighter Pilots Association and Brigadier General James H. Howard, who was the only European Theater fighter pilot to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II and later served as the last wartime base commander of Pinellas Army Airfield. A permanent exhibit honoring General Howard is located in the terminal.
After World War II the property was returned to Pinellas County by the U.S. government to operate as a civil airport. It was originally called Pinellas International Airport and given the IATA designation, PIE, which it still uses, because PIA was already taken by Peoria International Airport. It was later changed to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport because, according to airport manager "Bobo" Hayes, tourists didn't know where Pinellas county was.
In the 1950s some airlines flew to both PIE and TPA, such as Delta Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, National Airlines and Northwest Airlines. The April 1957 Official Airline Guide (OAG) shows 17 airline departures: ten Eastern, six National and one Mackey. Four of those flights were nonstop beyond Florida, including an Eastern DC-4 to Chicago and a 1049G to Pittsburgh.
With the advent of the jet age runway 17/35 was extended north into Tampa Bay; the first scheduled jet was a Northwest Airlines Boeing 720B from Chicago in late 1961. (The 1961 Aviation Week directory says PIE's longest runways were 5700 ft, but probably 17/35 was 8000 ft when the 720B arrived.) The increased capacity of the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, compared to the DC-6 and DC-7, prompted the Civil Aeronautics Board to approve consolidation of airline service for the Tampa Bay area at TPA in the early 1960s.
During the early 1960s, Eastern was the last scheduled airline serving PIE and it ceased all flights from the airport in 1964.
Airline service returned to PIE in the 1970s when Air Florida flew Boeing 707 jets followed by Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprops out of PIE; in 1982, Northeastern International started Douglas DC-8 jet nonstops to Islip, New York, and in 1983 People Express started nonstops to Newark with Boeing 737s and Boeing 727s. In 1986 Florida Express flew British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven jets nonstop to its hub in Orlando. In 1987 American Airlines started nonstops to its Raleigh-Durham hub, but by October 1989 PIE once again did not have scheduled airline service.
American Trans Air and Air South then began flights in the mid 1990s but both ended operations at PIE in 2004, ATA downsizing due to bankruptcy and Southeast going defunct. The airport was once again left without scheduled passenger flights.
In September 2006 Allegiant Air announced scheduled service from St. Petersburg-Clearwater to cities in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Allegiant's destination count from PIE has increased to 59 airports in the eastern United States. In February, the Lansing, Michigan service shifted to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with four weekly flights.
The airport recently completed a US$22 million renovation, including, among other things, larger gates, new plumbing, and building jetway loading bridges as previous boarding and deplaning required all passengers to walk across the tarmac to their gates.
The airport covers 1900 acres (769 ha) at an elevation of 11 feet (3 m). It has two asphalt runways: 18/36 is 9,730 by 150 feet (2,966 x 46 m) with an ILS approach, and 4/22 is 5,903 by 150 feet (1,799 x 46 m).
The airport is also the home of Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, the largest and busiest U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in the United States, operating HC-130 Hercules and MH-60T Jayhawk aircraft. The U.S. Army Reserve also maintains an Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) at PIE immediately west of the approach end of Runway 17R for Companies A and F, 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment and Medical Evacuation Unit, operating UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-operated control tower, the FAA's Central Florida Region Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) (which is the busiest AFSS in the United States) and the St. Petersburg VORTAC for airways navigation are also important federal government services at the airport.
Along with scheduled passenger and charter airlines as well as military flight operations, United Parcel Service (UPS Airlines) along with other air cargo operators and general/corporate aviation utilize the airport with UPS conducting extensive Boeing 757-200 freighter operations. The entire tract of the airport is designated as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) and a large Airport Industrial Park developed in the 1980s is a major center of commerce. The airport and its tenants employ over 3,000 people and have an economic benefit of more than $400 million yearly to the Tampa Bay area.
The airport has a 24-hour airport rescue and fire-fighting (ARFF) department (Index C), along with operations, facilities, engineering, security, and administrative personnel.
For the year ending June 30, 2017, the airport had 113,096 aircraft operations, an average of 310 operations per day; with 71% general aviation, 13% military, 12% commercial and 3% air taxi. In November 2017, there were 259 aircraft based at this airport: 98 single-engine, 29 multi-engine, 56 jet, 39 helicopter, 36 military and 1 ultralight.
St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport has one terminal and thirteen gates: 1-12 and 14.
|Allegiant Air||Allentown, Appleton, Asheville, Austin, Bangor, Belleville/St. Louis, Bloomington/Normal, Cedar Rapids, Chattanooga, Chicago/Rockford, Cincinnati, Columbus-Rickenbacker, Charlotte/Concord, Cleveland, Dayton, Des Moines, Elmira, Flint, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Huntington (WV), Indianapolis, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lexington, Louisville, Memphis, Milwaukee,New Orleans, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Norfolk, Ogdensburg (NY),Omaha, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Providence,Raleigh/Durham, Roanoke, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield/Branson, Syracuse, Toledo
Seasonal: Fargo, Hagerstown (MD), Moline/Quad Cities, Phoenix/Mesa,Portsmouth (NH), Richmond, Tulsa
|Sunwing Airlines||Seasonal: Halifax, Toronto-Pearson|
|3||Grand Rapids, Michigan||33,300||Allegiant|
|5||Asheville, North Carolina||28,610||Allegiant|
|8||Charlotte-Concord, North Carolina||24,070||Allegiant|
|10||Huntington, West Virginia||22,980||Allegiant|
On June 1, 2016, Allegiant Air flight 871 made an emergency landing at the airport, its scheduled destination. The plane departed from Moline, Illinois. No injuries were reported, and the airline declined to comment on the mechanical failure.