published Friday, March 28th, 2014

Task force sought to solve bad service at Chattanooga Airport

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    The Chattanooga Airport is planning on making "a major enhancement" to their terminal having recently hired local builder EMJ Corp. for $200,000 to provide renderings and cost documents for the project.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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Organizers of an online petition that garnered more than 200 names have asked Chattanooga Airport officials to help create a regional task force aimed at improving the on-time reliability of air service.

"The absence of reliable and predictable service is constantly impairing business connections and travelers who want the convenience of the Chattanooga Airport," said Carlene C. Vital of Chattanoogan's for Reliable Transportation in a letter to Lovell Field officials.

The group said the task force could hold members of area chambers of commerce, other local business leaders, major employers, and consumer advocates.

In addition, the group asked that airport officials invite decision makers from Delta Air Lines to come and visit the Chattanooga Airport for talks over the issue.

"The time has come to work with Delta Air Lines and its carriers to improve customer service," Vital said.

Airport spokesman Albert Waterhouse said officials take feedback from citizens and passengers seriously. He said plans are to meet with Delta in coming weeks.

"While airports can't control the scheduling and performance of airlines, they do listen to us and we plan to share these concerns with Delta," Waterhouse said.

Earlier this year after fielding a number of complaints, Chattanooga Airport officials said they'd like to have a face-to-face meeting with Delta executives to improve its on-time performance.

Weather-related events late in 2013 and in early 2014 have disrupted service at times between Chattanooga and Atlanta. Delta and its affiliates carry more than half of all passengers who board planes at the airport, with the large majority of them traveling to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

But in addition to those weather events, some business people and others have criticized what they see as all-too-frequent canceled flights and delays.

Chattanoogan's for Reliable Transportation began the online petition, with Vital saying the public's tolerance has reached maximum frustration.

"The ability to schedule flights and meet connecting service has become impossible and the ability to return from Atlanta has become totally unpredictable," she said.

Vital said the recent renovations and aesthetic improvements to the airport, though impressive, are not an investment with a return if the city does not have reliable and predictable 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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