published Monday, March 12th, 2012

Chattanooga Airport gets $5 million for new hangar

An airplane prepares for departure from the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.
An airplane prepares for departure from the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.
Photo by Dan Henry.
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Chattanooga Airport has received a $5 million state grant for construction of a second hangar at its new general aviation center.

However, an airport official said officials are evaluating the need.

Terry Hart, the Airport Authority's interim chief, said they've got five years to build and officials are not obligated to do so.

"We are simply performing due diligence to determine the availability of funds and the demand in this region," he said in a statement.

He said officials have asked Wilson Air Center, which is operating the new terminal, to make a recommendation.

According to the state Department of Transportation grant, the airport would have to chip in $555,555 for the project.

The existing hangar is part of the airport's new general aviation terminal facilities on the west side of the main runway.

The construction of the facilities has drawn fire from Tac Air, the airport's longtime fixed base operator.

Pam McAllister, Tac Air's general manager, has said the new facility wasn't needed and that the airport is trying to drive the business from Lovell Field.

But Hart said competition is benefiting airport users by driving down their costs.

Still, airport officials said that losses at the new terminal already have hit the entire year's projected deficit in the first five months of operation.

The general aviation terminal and hangar that opened in August has lost a little more than $300,000 so far, airport officials said. Original projections had put the total first-year deficit for the terminal -- which offers fuel and hangar space to corporate planes and pilots -- at about $300,000, they said.

Dave Ivey, Wilson Air's vice president, said while the new terminal is expected to experience a loss for the year, he believes the facility will turn a profit within five years.

The new hangar is nearly filled up and only has space for a small plane, officials have said.

Meanwhile, the planned new airport in Cleveland, Tenn., received grants totaling nearly $1.5 million.

The Athens-McMinn County, Tenn., airport received state and federal grants of more than $1.53 million, according to TDOT.

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about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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