published Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Chattanooga Airport boardings up on business travel

  • photo
    The Chattanooga Airport terminal.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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Strong business travel fueled higher passenger boardings at Chattanooga Airport in September over a year ago, and officials continue to look at a possible parking garage to meet demand.

Terry Hart, the airport's chief executive, said Wednesday that the 5.5 percent hike in boardings last month to 25,728 passengers is essentially all business-related.

"We're a business-driven market," he said at a meeting of the Airport Authority.

Express Jet, the Delta Connection airline that's the airport's busiest carrier, posted a 13.4 percent jump in boardings in the month, according to the airport.

For the year, however, boardings are still down 3.5 percent in the first nine months to 225,511. Most of that drop was weather-related earlier in the year, Hart said.

Hart said the airport parking lot continues to fill up on occasion and it has an overfill site nearby. When the lot appears heading for a full day, he'll alert employees and they'll park at the overfill location and be shuttled to the terminal.

Earlier, the airport conducted a study concerning parking, and a deck remains an option under examination, Hart said.

Meanwhile, Airport Authority Chairman Dan Jacobson said the biggest renovation to the passenger terminal since it opened in 1992 is on schedule to finish by the end of February.

The $7.2 million project is mostly done in the baggage and ticketing areas, he said.

"The terminal is beginning to shine," Jacobson said.

New carpet, tile flooring, paint, windows, doors, restrooms, escalators and other changes are underway, though the iconic copper dome atop the terminal isn't changing. The 1990s teal color accent of the terminal is going away, replaced by grays, tans, reds, faux wood and stainless steel.

Air cargo at the airport continues to soar in the wake of FedEx decision to bring in a bigger plane to meet demand, officials said. Cargo enplaned for the year is up about 40 percent.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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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