Chattanooga airport traffic up

Chattanooga airport traffic up

January 25th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

An airplane prepares for departure from the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


Chattanooga Airport boardings and percent gain or loss over prior year:

2011 - 304,016, up 4.3 percent

2010 - 291,388, down 6.1 percent

2009 - 310,414, up 3 percent

2008 - 301,338, down 2 percent

2007 - 307, 500, up 20.6 percent

Source: Chattanooga Airport

Despite a shaky national economy, Chattanooga Airport passenger traffic rose in 2011 and officials are ready to power up a new marketing campaign to bolster boardings.

Terry Hart, the airport's interim chief executive, cited the Chattanooga area's business climate and competitive air fares with helping drive a 4.3 percent hike in passenger traffic.

The airport boarded 304,016 people last year, up from 291,388, figures show. The increase comes after a 6.1 percent drop in 2010 over 2009.

The increase last year beat projected national traffic numbers, which are expected to climb only a percentage point or two when final figures are in, said Steve Lott of the Airport Transport Association of America.

"They're maybe up a smidgen," he said, adding traffic nationally is expected to come in at about 720 million passengers.

Dan Jacobson, Chattanooga Airport Authority chairman, said local numbers "speak well for a pretty tough year." He cited regional travelers flying out of Chattanooga rather than out of an another airport.

"Each time we choose to fly out of Chattanooga, we're keeping local dollars circulating in the local economy," Jacobson said.

Christina Siebold, the airport's marketing director, said the facility has begun a rebranding effort to freshen up its efforts to reach travelers.

"We felt this was an ideal time because we have so many new people moving into the region with new businesses starting here," she said.

Siebold said new print and TV ads will hit the message of service. Airport officials last year approved spending $140,000 for Big Communications of Birmingham, Ala., to finish implementing the rebranding effort, including ads and media buys.

Siebold said the ads also will aim at the business traveler.

"That's a huge demographic," she said.