Air travelers can fly nonstop from Chattanooga to these cities:
• Tampa-St. Petersburg
• Washington, D.C.
Source: Chattanooga Airport
Chattanooga Airport officials said Monday they're jetting ahead with efforts to land nonstop service between Chattanooga and New York and Houston, but they'll do so with one less page in their flight plan.
Lovell Field was passed over for a $750,000 federal grant that it was going to use to try to help secure the new nonstops.
Still, airport President Terry Hart said he'll meet with United Airlines officials in coming weeks and tell them Chattanooga garnered pledges of about $112,500, or 15 percent of the grant, from local businesses which want the flights.
Hart said he'll try to convince United to expand service by showing the growth this year in Chattanooga Airport passenger boardings. September boardings climbed 13.8 percent over a year ago to 29,291, figures show. If trends continue on the current annual pace, boardings will top 340,000, shattering the airport's 1993 high mark of 311,204, Hart said.
Airport Authority Chairman Dan Jacobson said Chattanooga can make a compelling case to United, which doesn't directly serve the market now.
"We want to make sure we're on their radar screen, and high on that screen," he said after a meeting of the airport panel.
Jacobson said that with nearly half of all Delta Air Lines flights in October on its jets, rather than on smaller planes flown by Delta affiliates, many fliers are using Chattanooga Airport again for that reason. He cited a recent comment by a Delta flier who has come back to Chattanooga after 20 years of driving to Atlanta's airport to fly.
Delta pulled its mainline jet service from Chattanooga in 1995 and just within the past two years has starting flying the bigger jets again into Lovell Field. Hart said Delta is flying four jets daily into the city this month.
"I think that's a big part of it," Jacobson said about the boardings increase.
Chattanooga Airport officials have said New York is the most flown-to destination from Lovell Field to which the city doesn't have nonstops. United has a hub at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport, which services the New York area.
Also, Chattanooga is eyeing nonstops to Houston into George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The city has had nonstops to both New York and Houston in the past. US Airways for a period offered the flights between Chattanooga and LaGuardia Airport last decade, but it dropped the flights in 2004 after the service lost money, according to the carrier.
Houston is a big connecting point for travelers flying to other Southern cities, the West and to Mexico. As late as 2008, the Chattanooga had nonstops to Houston on Continental Airlines, but the service was dropped after it merged with United.
Airport officials had planned to use the $750,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant to market potential new flights.
Hart said DOT didn't fund as many such grants as it has in the past. He said the local pledges were to be used to match the federal grant.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.