This is an excellent article written by Mike Pare at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. I feel that it is very significant article and worthy of passing along to you because it paints a very clear picture of the growth in Chattanooga air travel. And, this growth in air travel is a solid indicator of the vibrancy of the overall Chattanooga market.
[Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chattanooga, TN, January 21, 2015] A large ballooned arch in the Chattanooga Airport lobby topped with a number — 352,459 — greeted Lovell Field travelers on Tuesday.
That’s the new annual passenger boarding record at the airport set in 2014, shattering the old high mark of 21 years ago of 311,204. Chattanooga Airport boardings climbed 14 percent last year over 2013, figures show.
Airport officials are hopeful of an even bigger number in 2015 with scheduled airline departures out of Chattanooga slated to rise 13 percent over 2014. The number of available airline seats is to climb 14.5 percent this year, they said.
“The airlines are noticing our growth,” said Terry Hart, the airport’s president.
Lovell Field officials credit the rise in customers to convenience, more competitive fares, larger aircraft in the market, and stronger economic development in the region.
“These are phenomenal numbers,” Dan Jacobson, the Airport Authority’s chairman, said during a board meeting Tuesday. “Let’s do this again this year.”
Hart said fliers are seeing Chattanooga Airport as an option to other bigger airports such as in Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham.
Airport officials cite the $7.2 million passenger terminal renovation completed last year, which included upgraded concessions and WiFi service. More mainline jets from Delta Air Lines, the busiest carrier at Lovell Field, also helped attract more commuters to fly from Chattanooga rather than drive to other airports.
For many years, Lovell Field officials have seen other airports lure local travelers with better service and lower fares.
“People are recognizing Chattanooga Airport as an alternative and choosing to get on board,” Hart said. “This is a huge milestone.”
Jacobson said the improving economy and appeal of the Scenic City also is increasing air traffic.
“Our city’s focus on technology, the Volkswagen expansion and the annual Ironman triathlon are just a few of the developments drawing new people to Chattanooga regularly and many of those people are using the Chattanooga Airport,” he said.
Looking to 2015, Hart said the airport’s parking lot Tuesday was close to full, which is extraordinary for a January.
In addition to Delta’s larger jets, airport officials expect American Eagle to begin flying bigger aircraft into the city.
Hart said he continues to talk with airlines about bringing other new service to Chattanooga. Already, officials have identified the New York City area and Houston as targets for potential new nonstop flights.
Hart said the 14 percent gain in 2014 passenger boardings will turn out much stronger than at other airports.
For example, Nashville International Airport’s traffic rose 6.6 percent in 2014, though it set a new record.
Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s boardings through November, the most recent month available, was up 4.2 percent for domestic traffic.
Orlando International Airport’s gain in boardings was 7.5 percent in domestic passengers through most of November 2013 compared to the same period in 2013.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.