Although many organ functions rely on epithelial tubes with correct dimensions, mechanisms underlying tube size control are poorly understood. We analyse the cellular mechanism of tracheal tube elongation in Drosophila, and describe an essential role of the conserved tyrosine kinase Src42A in this process. We show that Src42A is required for polarized cell shape changes and cell rearrangements that mediate tube elongation. In contrast, diametric expansion is controlled by apical secretion independently of Src42A. Constitutive activation of Src42A induces axial cell stretching and tracheal overelongation, indicating that Src42A acts instructively in this process. We propose that Src42A-dependent recycling of E-Cadherin at adherens junctions is limiting for cell shape changes and rearrangements in the axial dimension of the tube. Thus, we define distinct cellular processes that independently control axial and diametric expansion of a cylindrical epithelium in a developing organ. Whereas exocytosis-dependent membrane growth drives circumferential tube expansion, Src42A is required to orient membrane growth in the axial dimension of the tube.