St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport

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St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport
St Petersburg Clearwater airport logo.jpg
St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport FL 31 Dec 2008.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner County of Pinellas
Serves Tampa Bay Area
Location Pinellas County
Focus city for Allegiant Air
Elevation AMSL 11 ft / 3 m
Coordinates 27°54′36″N 082°41′15″W / 27.91000°N 82.68750°W / 27.91000; -82.68750Coordinates: 27°54′36″N 082°41′15″W / 27.91000°N 82.68750°W / 27.91000; -82.68750
PIE is located in Florida
Location of airport in Florida / United States
PIE is located in the US
PIE (the US)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
18/36 9,730 2,966 Asphalt
4/22 5,903 1,799 Asphalt
Aircraft operations (2017) 113,096
Based aircraft (2017) 259
Departing Passengers (12 months ending July 2017) 965,000
Cargo tonnage (12 months ending July 2017) 42,500
Sources: FAA,[1] Airport website[2]

St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport (IATA: PIE[3], ICAO: KPIE, FAA LID: PIE) is a public/military airport in Pinellas County, Florida serving the Tampa Bay Area.[1] It is nine miles north of downtown St. Petersburg,[1] 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.[4] In 2014 it showed double-digit growth and handled more than one million passengers, setting a record.[5]

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.[citation needed]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Construction and wartime[edit]

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.

Postwar operation[edit]

FAA diagram

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.[8] 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.[7]

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.[9] 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.

Recent developments[edit]

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.[10]

In January 2015 Silver Airways announced it was beginning service to PIE, but in March the company had cancelled its plans.[11]


Runway 27 (March 1988)
Runway 17L and taxiway/runway 17R (1988)

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).[1]

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.[1]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Baggage-claim area, with replica of Benoist XIV flying boat flown by aviation pioneer Tony Jannus in 1914 (2009 photo)
PIE's baggage-claim area has four baggage carousels (2009 photo)

St. Petersburg–Clearwater International Airport has one terminal and thirteen gates: 1–12 and 14.


Airlines Destinations
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,[12] Nashville (begins June 14, 2018),[13] New Orleans, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Norfolk, Ogdensburg (NY),[14] Omaha, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Providence,[15] Raleigh/Durham, Roanoke, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield/Branson, Syracuse, Toledo
Seasonal: Fargo, Hagerstown (MD), Moline/Quad Cities, Phoenix/Mesa,[12] Portsmouth (NH), Richmond, Tri-Cities (TN) (begins May 18, 2018), Tulsa
Sun Country Airlines Charter: Gulfport/Biloxi
Sunwing Airlines Seasonal: Halifax, Toronto–Pearson


Airline market share[edit]

Carrier shares for (Dec 2016 – Nov 2017)[16]
Carrier   Passengers (arriving and departing)

Top domestic destinations[edit]

Top domestic destinations (February 2017 – January 2018)[16]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Cincinnati, Ohio 51,660 Allegiant
2 Indianapolis, Indiana 38,490 Allegiant
3 Grand Rapids, Michigan 34,230 Allegiant
4 Knoxville, Tennessee 31,990 Allegiant
5 Asheville, North Carolina 30,270 Allegiant
6 Charlotte–Concord, North Carolina 26,020 Allegiant
7 Columbus–Rickenbacker, Ohio 24,720 Allegiant
8 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 24,590 Allegiant
9 Lexington, Kentucky 23,210 Allegiant
10 Huntington, West Virginia 22,860 Allegiant

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at St Pete-Clearwater Airport, 1992 thru 2016[17]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 776,087 2000 734,940
2009 776,535 1999 791,973
2008 742,380 1998 911,195
2017 2,055,269 2007 747,369 1997 883,086
2016 1,837,035 2006 389,997 1996 1,045,928
2015 1,645,402 2005 596,510 1995 1,086,051
2014 1,247,987 2004 1,333,069 1994 721,977
2013 1,017,049 2003 997,761 1993 561,322
2012 865,942 2002 623,959 1992 397,940
2011 833,068 2001 637,310

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On June 6, 1982, a Douglas C-47A (N95C), of Fromhagen Aviation, was written off after the starboard engine failed during the takeoff for a training flight. All five people aboard survived.[18]

On September 30, 2015, the pilot of a Piper PA-30, registered to Jet Aircraft Management, crashed and died while practicing takeoffs and landings.[19][20]

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.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e FAA Airport Master Record for PIE (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. effective November 9, 2017.
  2. ^ "Fact Sheet 2012" (PDF). St. Petersburg–Clearwater International Airport. Retrieved December 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ "IATA Airport code Search (PIE: St.Pete/Clearwater)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved December 31, 2012. 
  4. ^ "List of NPIAS Airports" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2017. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Tony Jannus —An Enduring Legacy of Aviation". Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society. Archived from the original on February 4, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b McCarthy, Kevin M. (2003), Aviation in Florida, Illustrated by William Trotter (illustrated ed.), Pineapple Press Inc, pp. 159–164, ISBN 9781561642816  External link in |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ Anderson, Anne W. (2010), Insiders' Guide to the Greater Tampa Bay Area: Including Tampa, St. Petersburg, & Clearwater, Insiders' Guide Series, Globe Pequot, p. 16, ISBN 9780762753475 
  9. ^[permanent dead link], Florida Express route map
  10. ^ 'Other' airport gets facelift, St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 2007.
  11. ^ "Silver Airways aborts flights to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport" (Archive). Tampa Bay Times. Thursday 31 March 2015. Retrieved on April 3, 2015.
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b "St. Petersburg, FL: St. Petersburg-Clearwater International (PIE)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. November 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2018. 
  17. ^ Passenger Statistics & Reports.
  18. ^ "N95C Accident report". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 25, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Pilot killed in small plane crash at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport". Bay News 9. September 30, 2015. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  20. ^ "Pilot dies in plane crash at St. Pete-Clearwater Airport". 10NEWS. Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  21. ^ Staff (June 1, 2016). "Allegiant flight declares emergency at St. Pete-Clearwater Airport". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
Other sources

External links[edit]