published Friday, February 21st, 2014

Upset fliers petition for better Delta service in Chattanooga

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    The Chattanooga Airport terminal.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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An online petition seeking more reliable air service from Delta Connection carriers at Chattanooga Airport has drawn more than 100 signatures.

Chattanoogans for Reliable Air Travel plans to provide the petition to airport officials, who earlier this week said they want to meet with Delta and express their complaints over canceled and delayed flights to and from Atlanta.

Even former Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield has signed the petition, saying Delta carriers have lapsed into “a careless, lackadaisical way” of providing air service to the city.

“It’s critical” to business, Littlefield said.

Greg Vital, a Chattanooga businessman who has complained about the service, said it’s a key time in the city’s history as it tries to grow and add companies.

“There has been a consistent track record with Delta treating Chattanooga like second-class citizens,” he said.

On Monday, airport officials said they planned to seek face-to-face meetings with Delta executives at the air carrier’s Atlanta headquarters.

Airport Authority Vice Chairman Jim Hall cited a number of complaints about the service between Chattanooga and Atlanta.

“We had this problem a couple of years ago. We had discussions at that time,” Hall said. “We did see some considerable improvement in service.”

Littlefield recalled a cancelled flight in January 2011 while he was mayor and attending the unveiling of the Chattanooga-made Volkswagen Passat at the Detroit auto show. He said Delta nixed a flight to Chattanooga that included top VW officials and others, even though the Detroit and Chattanooga airports were open after a snowstorm.

Littlefield said the explanation Delta officials gave was that Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was closed.

Following that, he said, he and an airport official met with Delta in a “frank and terse meeting.”

“They promised to do better,” Littlefield said. “It got better for a while.”

The CHART petition said that having predictable air service is an essential component of any airport.

“Unfortunately, Delta Airlines and its carrier partners do not meet this standard in Chattanooga. The frequency of delays, cancellations, and mechanical problems in and out of the Chattanooga Airport are now the norm rather than the exception. This is unacceptable,” the petition said.

Delta carries more than half of all of the fliers at Chattanooga’s airport.

The airline did not respond Thursday to a request for comment about the criticism of its Chattanooga service.

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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