published Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Airport moves ahead on terminal

Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority on Friday moved ahead with plans to build a new general aviation terminal and hangar space, despite concerns there’s not enough traffic to justify the facilities.

The panel OK’d a $3.6 million bid by Morgan Construction and Paris Construction to raise a 9,000-square-foot terminal on the west side of the airport’s main runway along with 12,000 square feet in hangar space.

Also, the Authority approved a $354,000 engineering services contract with Allen & Hoshall.

Phillip Higginbotham of Morgan Construction said work is to start within weeks and take about 10 months to complete.

“It’s a significant and exciting project for the city,” he said.

The work is the first phase of $10 million in new facilities, which include a fuel farm and even more hangar space.

On Monday, the airport plans to seek proposals for another fixed-base operator to run the new sites. FBOs typically supply fuel and hangar space for aircraft.

Mike Landguth, Airport Authority president, said customers have indicated they want more competition at Lovell Field.

“The driving force behind this initiative is the customer saying, ‘We want competition,’’’ he said.

But, an official for existing fixed-based operator Tac Air said there’s already competition from other airports in the region which offer fuel and services.

“We’re for the free market,” said Tac Air marketing director David Edwards. “But another point I want to stress — Chattanooga is not an island to itself.”

He also cited recent falling general aviation traffic at the airport. Edwards said the airport’s master plan shows higher projections, but those are based on pre-recession data.

Landguth and others have cited the arrival of Volkswagen, Alstom’s big expansion and other existing and planned growth as reasons for the new terminal and hangar space.

The west side is largely an undeveloped tract. The planned new terminal and hangar will sit across the main runway from existing facilities.

Landguth said the state will pay 90 percent of the project’s cost while the airport will pick up the rest from its operations budget.

Dan Jacobson, the Authority’s chairman, read a letter from Mayor Ron Littlefield supporting the project.

“I support the project 100 percent,” the mayor said in the letter. “It’s about economic development.”

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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dave said...

More spending.... more taxes. taxed enough already.

September 25, 2010 at 1:59 a.m.
whatever said...

I don't know that I'd claim the airport expansion as necessarily a demonstration of excess taxation, as they could just be planning on funding it based on usage.

September 25, 2010 at 10:31 a.m.
rolando said...

That's how it is with any governmental institution...there is only ONE way to get promoted or gain more responsibility [read power] and that is by expanding one's area of control. That translates into more feather-merchants, more funding, ad infinitum.

The ChatMetroArptAuth couldn't care less about the amount of general aviation using the airport. Think of the expanded facilities and all that plum contractor awards/contracts, dude!

The Chinese have a word/phrase for it [as they always do]; it is called gwangshee [phonetic]. It is sorta like The Godfather's "favors" owed to him...only in spades.

September 25, 2010 at 10:40 a.m.
mladd said...

I personally can not wait for another FBO at CHA. TacAir is charging too much for everything from fuel and hangers to office space and janitor service. Hangars leak, power doesn't work, doors need to be opened by 3 guys. TacAir refuses to fix any of the issues. Flight schools, FAA Examiners and private pilots are moving away day after day. They only worry about Biz Jets.

With a second Fixed Based Operator, maybe prices and facilities can be more competitive with the "other airports in the region" and then Lovell Field can be a major hub assisting in the growth of Chattanooga and Hamilton County.

And with the Southwest/AirTran merger, maybe we can get another low-cost airline in CHA besides a handful of flights from Allegiant.

September 27, 2010 at 2:37 p.m.
aviationcharlie said...

If the CMAA was worried about costs to customers, they would lower $0.13 a gallon flowage fee and the 2% collection on all services at the airport - THAT is the reason some people have pulled out.

If you want to complain about fuel prices, check today's prices at CHA compared to TRI, TYS, MEM and BNA

September 27, 2010 at 4:21 p.m.
aviationcharlie said...

I just found a very interesting web site on the subject -

www.chattanoogansforfairaviation.com

September 27, 2010 at 4:35 p.m.
dashandyman said...

Competition is is not a bad thing. Airport subsidized competition is! This upsets a very delicate balance that will haunt the airport for decades. Two starving FBO's is not a better situation to create. Airports and AAAE should rethink the concept of "creating opportunities" for competition and let the free market dictate where the investment in infrastructure should be made if it should be made.
mladd may get a second FBO, but it won't solve the problem that "insufficient return on investment" creates. Let the market determine what's right and get the Airport and current operators on the same page of what level of service is needed and achievable. Unless there is way over a million gallons of "retail" fuel another FBO will only make matters worse. Unfortunatly, Flight Schools, FAA examiners and private pilots are "moving away" everywhere, not just CHA. This economy is hurting us all...

September 27, 2010 at 4:52 p.m.
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