Airlines compete for passengers by adjusting services as boardings continue to soar at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

Airlines compete for passengers by adjusting services as boardings continue to soar at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

April 15th, 2019 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Airlines serving Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport are jockeying for passengers as boardings continue to soar at Lovell Field.

American Eagle will drop its Chattanooga to Chicago service next month while at the same time starting new flights from the Scenic City to Philadelphia, said Chattanooga Airport CEO Terry Hart on Monday.

Also, Delta Air Lines is upping its nonstops to Detroit from two to three daily starting in July, he told the Airport Authority in a meeting.

In addition, United Airlines, which will continue flying nonstops to Chicago, will adjust its current flight times between Chattanooga and Washington-Dulles to make it easier to connect with service to the Northeast, Hart said.

The moves by the airlines come as passenger boardings in Chattanooga hit a new record for March, climbing 18.7 percent over the same month last year to 47,310 passengers, the airport reported.

For the first three months of the year, boardings are 11.06 percent higher over the same period in 2018. Last year, the airport set a new annual record for passengers.

Dan Jacobson, the Airport Authority's chairman, said Lovell Field is experiencing "phenomenal growth" for the year so far.

"Flying out of Chattanooga makes good sense," he said.

Hart said that April appears like "another positive month" so far.

Meanwhile, to keep up with a need for more parking at the airport, a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year calls for anticipating work to start on a $26 million parking garage. The 1,300-space garage would go near the passenger terminal, according to the airport.

The budget, which was approved by the airport panel, also includes three new passenger boarding bridges to replace existing units, said April Cameron, Lovell Field's vice president of finance and administration.

The new budget projects a 5 percent increase in revenues to $25.1 million. It will keep landing fees the same, though the terminal rental rate will rise for the first time in six years, she said.

Cameron said the budget calls for parking fees to stay the same next fiscal year. In late 2018, the airport authority agreed to raise those for the first time in six years.

Expenses are up 6 percent to $17.1 million, she said. That doesn't include debt service or capital expenditures, Cameron said.

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