Despite a drop in Allegiant Air's traffic, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport passenger boardings climbed in January over a year ago with business travelers helping push numbers higher.
"That's a really good sign," said Mike Landguth, Airport Authority president, on Monday.
Landguth said traffic should be bolstered by a second nonstop flight to Detroit starting in March, followed by flights to Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Fla., beginning April 1.
Allegiant, which flies nonstops between Chattanooga and Orlando and Tampa Bay, suffered a 29 percent drop in boardings in January, figures show.
Landguth said the decline showed up in Allegiant's earlier cut of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., service.
He said the airport is pushing for those nonstops to be restored, and it has offered Allegiant incentives.
"As they increase the number of flights here, their costs would actually go down," he said. "To this point, they've not taken us up on the opportunity."
Authority member Jim Hall told Landguth to "keep knocking" on Allegiant's door. "This is an impressive increase," he said about overall traffic.
January changes over a year ago at Chattanooga's airport:
• Allegiant Air -- down 29.08 percent
• American Eagle -- up 27.38 percent
• ASA-up 15.69 percent
• Comair-up 100 percent
• Northwest-down 100 percent
• US Air (Piedmont)-down 81.3 percent
• US Air (PSA)-up 29.74 percent
• US Air (Wisconsin)-up 100 percent
• Charters-up 100 percent
Source: Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport
Landguth said January is the sixth consecutive month of passenger increases.
Airport Authority member Moses Freeman asked about federal budget activity related to aviation.
Landguth said aviation tends to have strong bipartisan support in Congress.
"It looks like it's the first bill ... they're trying to take forward to try to come up with an approved bill not only for this year but for the next two years," he said.
But all the aviation budget proposals are "reflecting the challenges we face in this country that will be less money probably coming from the airport improvement program," Landguth said.