Chattanooga Airport targets Atlanta area fliers

Chattanooga Airport targets Atlanta area fliers

June 17th, 2014 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Terry Hart, president and CEO of Chattanooga Airport

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

The Chattanooga Airport terminal.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Chattanooga Airport officials agreed Monday to target air travelers who live in the north Atlanta suburbs, and they plan to about double the size of Lovell Field's rental car lot to meet higher demand.

The Airport Authority will spend $155,000 for the placement of outdoor and online advertising directed at residents north of Atlanta and in the Chattanooga area. The aim is to give those fliers an alternative to Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, officials said.

Terry Hart, the Chattanooga Airport's chief executive, said passenger boardings already are growing in the Chattanooga area, up 15.27 percent through April over the same period a year ago.

Reaching out to the counties north of Atlanta is another opportunity to grow, Hart said.

"I think we'll see an increase in enplanements as a result," he said. "It's getting them to check Chattanooga and not just Atlanta." The advertising firm Two by Four was hired to develop the effort.

Authority member Mike Mallen said that trying to appeal to Atlanta area residents is an idea the airport can't afford not to do.

Farzana Mitchell, another airport board member, said that while she likes the concept, she's worried about wooing fliers to Chattanooga only to be disappointed by a canceled flight.

Hart said there already have been talks about the flight delays with Delta Air Lines, the Chattanooga Airport's busiest carrier, and the airline had no cancellations of local flights in May.

The airport chief said passenger boardings are rising in Chattanooga, in part, due to competitive fares, and that should appeal to Atlanta fliers.

"Price is the driver," Hart said.

Also, the Georgia air travelers wouldn't have to drive through Atlanta to get to that city's airport, which is in the south end. In addition, while Atlanta is the nation's busiest airport in terms of numbers of fliers, that also sometimes results in delays.

Hart said an offshoot of potentially attracting more traffic is gaining added flights from the airlines.

During an airport authority meeting Monday, board members voted to hire the engineering firm Allen & Hoshall to begin work on what is to be a nearly $3 million revamp of the rental car parking lot.

Plans are to add 93 more parking spaces, putting the total at 194.

"It will improve customer service," Hart said.

He said the expansion will be enabled by moving a fence near an existing hangar. Hart said a walkway to the new rental car area will be covered. Eventually, all of the rental car lot will be covered as well, he said. New entrances to the hangar also will be constructed, Hart said.

The project will be paid for from an existing fee that is charged to users of airport car rentals, and it should be ready by the end of the year.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.