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 typePublic
OwnerPinellas County
ServesTampa Bay Area
Locationunincorporated Pinellas County, adjacent to Pinellas Park
Focus city forAllegiant Air
Elevation AMSL11 ft / 3 m
Coordinates27°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
PIE is located in the United States
PIE (the United States)
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
Passengers (2018)2,237,440
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 right on the northeast municipal boundary of Pinellas Park, nine miles north of downtown St. Petersburg,[1] seven miles southeast of Clearwater, and seventeen miles southwest of Tampa.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021 categorized it 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]

Airline service: 1950s to the mid 2000s[edit]

In the 1950s several airlines served both PIE and Tampa International Airport including Delta Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, National Airlines and Northwest Airlines. The April 1957 Official Airline Guide lists 17 airline departures: ten by Eastern, six by National and one by Mackey Airlines. Four departures flew nonstop beyond Florida, including an Eastern Douglas DC-4 to Chicago and a Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation to Pittsburgh. In 1956, Mackey Airlines Douglas DC-4s flew to Nassau, Bahamas via Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.[9] In 1959 a National Airlines Douglas DC-7B flew to New York City Idlewild Airport (now JFK Airport) and Boston via Jacksonville.[10] In 1960, Delta was operating "Flying Scot" Douglas DC-6s St. Petersburg - Atlanta - Knoxville - Cincinnati - Chicago Midway Airport.[11]

With the advent of the jet age, runway 17/35 was extended north into Tampa Bay; the first scheduled jets were Northwest Airlines Boeing 720Bs from Chicago in late 1961 (the 1961 Aviation Week directory says PIE's longest runways were 5,700 feet, but it appears 17/35 was 8,000 feet when the 720B arrived). The increased capacities of Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 jets prompted the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to approve consolidation of airline service for the Tampa Bay area at TPA in the early 1960s.

In 1963 Northwest was flying a Lockheed L-188 Electra Miami - Fort Lauderdale - St. Petersburg - Atlanta - Chicago O'Hare Airport - Minneapolis/St. Paul - Fargo, ND - Grand Forks, ND - Winnipeg, Canada.[12] Eastern was the last scheduled airline at PIE during the mid 1960s and it ended flights from the airport in 1964. The year before, Eastern had been operating prop flights from St. Petersburg nonstop to Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare Airport, Cleveland and Louisville and one-stop to Columbus, OH, Detroit and Indianapolis.[13]

Scheduled air service returned to PIE in 1972 when Air Florida began intrastate airline flights to Miami and Orlando with Boeing 707s.[14] Air Florida replaced its 707s with Lockheed L-188 Electras out of PIE and in 1974 was flying nonstop to Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee.[15] According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), only one airline was serving St. Petersburg in the fall of 1979: regional air carrier Red Carpet Airlines operating Convair 440 prop aircraft five days a week nonstop from Miami and two days a week nonstop from Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.[16] Also according to the OAG, by 1981 the airport still had only one air carrier operating scheduled passenger service: commuter airline Sun Air operating small Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante turboprops with one weekday nonstop flight from Miami as well as one weekday nonstop flight from nearby Tampa.[17]

Jet service returned in 1982 with Northeastern International Airways flying Douglas DC-8 nonstops to Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York. By 1983 Northeastern was flying Boeing 727-100 nonstops to Fort Lauderdale and New Orleans in addition to its nonstop service to Islip.[18] Also in 1983 People Express was flying nonstop to New York/Newark Liberty International Airport with Boeing 727-200s, 737-100s and 737-200s. Locally based regional air carrier Atlantic Gulf Airlines was flying Vickers Viscount turboprops nonstop to Miami in 1983 and by 1984 was operating Convair 580 turboprops to Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tallahassee.[19][20] By 1984 Northeastern had added nonstop West Palm Beach jet flights and direct jets to Hartford/Springfield, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, San Diego and Tulsa.[21] People Express also expanded its flights from the airport and in 1985 was flying nonstop to Charlotte and to New York/Newark and direct to Boston, Detroit and Syracuse.[22] In 1985 Florida Express British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Elevens were flying to PIE: four daily nonstops to its Orlando hub with direct flights to Columbus, OH, Fort Lauderdale, Indianapolis and Nashville via Orlando.[23] In 1987 American Airlines started nonstops to its Raleigh-Durham hub, but by October 1989 PIE once again had no scheduled airline service.

American Trans Air (ATA) and Air South began jet flights from PIE in the mid 1990s. In early 1994, American Trans Air was operating nonstop Boeing 757-200s from Chicago Midway Airport, nonstop Boeing 727-200s from Indianapolis, nonstop Boeing 727-200s from Milwaukee and weekly nonstop Lockheed L-1011 TriStars from Philadelphia.[24] By late 1994 American Trans Air had expanded its service and was operating domestic nonstop service to Fort Lauderdale and St. Louis as well as international nonstop flights to Nassau, Bahamas in addition to its flights to Chicago Midway, Indianapolis and Milwaukee.[25][26] ATA was primarily operating Boeing 727-200 jets on these services in late 1994 but was also operating larger Boeing 757-200 jetliners on some nonstop flights between the airport and Chicago Midway at this time as well.[26] In the summer of 1995, Air South was flying nonstop Boeing 737-200 jet service to Atlanta, Columbia, SC, Miami and Tallahassee.[27] The Air South service to Miami in 1995 included up to five 737 nonstops on weekdays while at the same time commuter air carrier Gulfstream International Airlines was operating twice daily nonstop flights to Miami with small Beechcraft 1900C turboprops.[28] In 1997 Reno Air was operating "Gulf Coast Flyer" service nonstop to Gulfport/Biloxi with McDonnell Douglas MD-80s.[29] By 1999, the OAG listed four airlines operating jets to St. Petersburg: American Trans Air Boeing 727-200 nonstops from Chicago Midway Airport and Indianapolis, Canada 3000 Airbus A320 nonstops from Toronto, Nations Air Boeing 737-200 nonstops from Gulfport/Biloxi and Royal Aviation Boeing 757-200 nonstops from Toronto.[30] American Trans Air ended operations at PIE in 2004 due to downsizing prior to declaring bankruptcy while Air South ceased serving the airport in 1996 and subsequently went out of business. After ATA left the airport again had no 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 since increased to 59 airports in the eastern United States. In February, the Lansing, Michigan service shifted to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with four weekly flights.

In 2009 the airport completed a US$22 million renovation, including, among other things, larger gates, new plumbing, and building passenger jet bridges.[31][32]

In January 2015 Silver Airways announced it was beginning service to PIE, but in March the company had cancelled its plans.[33]


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, 2018, the airport had 114,582 aircraft operations, an average of 314 operations per day; with 70% general aviation, 13% military, 14% commercial and 4% 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.


Allegiant Air Albany (NY), Allentown, Appleton, Asheville, Bangor, Belleville/St. Louis, Bloomington/Normal, Cedar Rapids, Charlotte/Concord, Chattanooga, Chicago/Rockford, Cincinnati, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Cleveland, Dayton, Des Moines, Elmira, Flint, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Huntington (WV), Indianapolis, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lexington, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville,[34] Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Norfolk, Ogdensburg (NY),[35] Omaha, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Roanoke, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield/Branson, State College, [36] Syracuse, Toledo, Traverse City[36]
Seasonal: Hagerstown, Moline/Quad Cities, Phoenix/Mesa,[37] Richmond, Tri-Cities (TN), Tulsa
Sunwing Airlines Seasonal: Halifax, Toronto–Pearson


Airline market share[edit]

Carrier shares for (Dec 2016 – Nov 2017)[38]
Carrier   Passengers (arriving and departing)

Top domestic destinations[edit]

Top domestic destinations (May 2018 – April 2019)[38]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Cincinnati, Ohio 59,740 Allegiant
2 Indianapolis, Indiana 52,680 Allegiant
3 Asheville, North Carolina 49,550 Allegiant
4 Grand Rapids, Michigan 43,390 Allegiant
5 Knoxville, Tennessee 42,860 Allegiant
6 Charlotte–Concord, North Carolina 39,270 Allegiant
7 Flint, Michigan 34,760 Allegiant
8 Syracuse, New York 29,500 Allegiant
9 Allentown, Pennsylvania 27, 160 Allegiant
10 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 26,790 Allegiant

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at St Pete-Clearwater Airport, 1992 thru 2018[39]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 776,087 2000 734,940
2009 776,535 1999 791,973
2018 2,237,446 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 September 30, 2015, the pilot of a Piper PA-30, registered to Jet Aircraft Management, crashed and died while practicing takeoffs and landings.[40][41]

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. October 21, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  5. ^ "St. Pete Clearwater airport set passenger record in 2014". January 1, 2015.
  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
  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. ^, Sept. 5, 1956 Mackey Airlines timetable
  10. ^, April 26, 1959 National Airlines timetable
  11. ^, Oct. 30, 1960 Delta Air Lines timetable
  12. ^, March 1, 1963 Northwest Airlines timetable
  13. ^, July 1, 1963 Eastern Air Lines timetable
  14. ^, Sept. 27, 1972 Air Florida timetable
  15. ^, April 14, 1974 Air Florida route map
  16. ^, Nov. 15, 1985 Official Airline Guide, Saint Petersburg flight schedules
  17. ^, April 1, 1981 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Saint Petersburg flight schedules
  18. ^, July 1, 1983 Official Airline Guide, Fort Lauderdale & New Orleans flight schedules
  19. ^, early 1984 Atlantic Gulf Airlines route map & timetable
  20. ^ "Atlantic Gulf Airlines". Sunshine Skies.
  21. ^, May 1, 1984 Northeastern International Airlines timetable
  22. ^, June 26, 1985 People Express timetable
  23. ^, Nov. 15, 1985 Florida Express timetable
  24. ^ Feb. 1, 1994 OAG Pocket Flight Guide, St. Petersburg Intl. schedules
  25. ^, Dec. 17, 1994 American Trans Air/ATA system timetable
  26. ^ a b Oct. 30, 1994 OAG North American Pocket Flight Guide
  27. ^, June 17, 1995 Air South route map
  28. ^, April 2, 1995 Official Airline Guide, Miami flight schedules
  29. ^, May 22, 1997 Reno Air route map
  30. ^, June 1, 1999 Official Airline Guide, Saint Petersburg flight schedules
  31. ^ 'Other' airport gets facelift, St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 2007.
  32. ^ Florida's St Petersburg-Clearwater Airport receives facelift,, June 8, 2009. Retrieved on November 4, 2019.
  33. ^ "Silver Airways aborts flights to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport" (Archive). Tampa Bay Times. Thursday 31 March 2015. Retrieved on April 3, 2015.
  34. ^ "Allegiant to begin flights between Nashville and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport". April 3, 2018.
  35. ^ "Press Release - Investor Relations - Allegiant Air".
  36. ^ a b Liu, Jim. "Allegiant Air new routes launch in Oct 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  37. ^ "Allegiant : 28 new routes, 3 new cities part of its biggest expansion ever".
  38. ^ 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.
  39. ^ "Passenger Statistics & Reports - St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport".
  40. ^ "Pilot killed in small plane crash at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport". Bay News 9. September 30, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  41. ^ "Pilot dies in plane crash at St. Pete-Clearwater Airport". 10NEWS. Retrieved October 25, 2015.


External links[edit]