Chattanooga Airport stays on record-breaking path

Officials eye more seats, N. Georgia traffic

Staff file photo / Delta associate Sheldon Posey, left, talks to a couple of passengers at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport. Delta plans to start offering nonstops to New York City in July.

What we've seen here is a number of people coming from North Atlanta. Our fares have been very competitive.

Chattanooga Airport officials are looking at better tapping the North Georgia and North Alabama markets as Lovell Field stays on course to pass last year's record-breaking passenger traffic.

Also, the airport expects to see more airplane seats come into the market this summer and fall as Delta starts nonstops to New York City and airlines schedule bigger regional jets into Chattanooga, said Terry Hart, Lovell Field's chief executive.

Hart said Chattanooga should see up to a 12 percent increase in the number of airline seats later this year, which should help drive more passenger boardings.

Through May, total boardings are 192,625, up 1.7 percent over last year, according to the airport.

Blake Poole, the airport's vice president of air service and economic development, said officials are eyeing more billboards along the Interstate-75 corridor in North Georgia to advertise Lovell Field.

The airport currently has one billboard at I-75 near I-575 which it changes out about every three months. In the future, the airport will join with Chattanooga web design and marketing firm Maycreate to look at a couple of other billboards, Poole said.

He said they'll examine not just around Marietta, Ga., but further north toward Calhoun, Ga.

To the North Georgia market, airport officials pitch Chattanooga's easier access than driving south to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

"What we've seen here is a number of people coming from North Atlanta," Hart said. "Our fares have been very competitive. People come here to originate for the convenience and may pay less on the ticket price."

In addition, Poole said officials are checking the Huntsville, Ala., area market, too. He said, for example, he was at a conference there recently and a Huntsville woman told him how much she likes flying out of Chattanooga.

Dan Jacobson, the Airport Authority's chairman, said he has heard a lot of interest about Delta's plans to start nonstops to LaGuardia Airport in New York in July.

"There's also a lot of buzz and excitement in New York and other places about Chattanooga," he said. "This is a powerful addition to our economic development efforts."

Delta will fly a 76-seat regional jet on a pair of roundtrips daily between the cities.

United Airlines, which has been flying into the New York area with flights into Newark, N.J., for the past couple of years, will shift to two nonstops daily between Chattanooga and Washington Dulles starting Oct. 4.

Washington Dullas is a new destination for Chattanooga nonstop flights, and Volkswagen officials are expected to benefit as the company's U.S. headquarters is located nearby.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.