Chattanooga Airport targeting more air service as it reaches out to airlines, airports

Staff file photo by Matt Hamilton / Passengers line up at the ticket counter at Chattanooga Airport in 2022.

The Chattanooga Airport, which is stepping up efforts to woo more air service, is reaching out to the airlines to better tell the city's story and to other airports to learn from them.

Airport Chief Executive April Cameron, in her first meeting of the Airport Authority since she was elevated to the top post this summer, said Monday that route planners for four airlines are invited to the city the first week of October.

She said the planners work for the airlines that already service Chattanooga — Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Allegiant Air. Representatives of other carriers have been invited as well, Cameron said, but the focus is on current carriers in the first year of such an initiative.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Airport makes air service a priority, boosts funding)

Along with meeting with airport staff, the mayors of Chattanooga and Hamilton County are to welcome the planners, she said.

Also, the CEOs of several local companies will take part in the meetings along with Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and Chattanooga Tourism Co. officials, Cameron said.

"We'll let Chattanooga sell itself," she said. "We hope Chattanooga will come to their minds. We want to be first of mind. We'll show how much we're growing."

Airport Authority Chair Jim Hall said at the meeting that the ongoing $28 million expansion of the passenger terminal, Lovell Field's most expensive ever, will serve as a centerpiece to sell the airport to travelers and to the airlines which are looking to add service.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Airport's passenger terminal expansion is underway)

He said the board approves of Cameron and her staff's aggressiveness in attracting more service to the airport.

"It will be a new opportunity," Hall said. "We'll make sure they know what's going on in Chattanooga."

In addition, Cameron said she and airport staffers have been visiting similarly sized airports in the region to learn best practices from them.

Huntsville International Airport in Alabama, McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina and Lexington Airport in Kentucky have been visited, she said.

"We're trying to figure out ways we can make changes, come up with new ideas," she said. "What are they doing to increase air service?"

Asheville's airport has excelled in air service development, Cameron said. Huntsville, meanwhile, has done a lot in terms of economic development, she said.

Ellis Smith, director of intergovernmental and external affairs for Chattanooga, cited Volkswagen's $3.5 billion investment in the city since 2012. He said at the meeting that proposed South Broad development and planned projects at The Bend on downtown's Westside could double VW's figure.

"It's a story we want to tell the airlines," Smith said.

Cameron replaced Terry Hart, who retired this summer after 16 years at the Chattanooga Airport. Cameron was the longtime airport vice president of finance.

Additionally, Hamilton County Commissioner Chip Baker joined the Airport Authority on Monday.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.