Nonstop service between Chattanooga and New York City’s LaGuardia Airport that started in July is filling about 80 percent of available seats, according to Lovell Field.
Within reach of a half-million passenger boardings by year's end, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport officials are looking at meeting future parking needs by building a deck near the terminal.
A multi-level garage, which could hold up to 1,300 spaces, likely would be located across from the existing baggage claim and rental car location, according to a new update to the airport's long-range planning process laid out for officials Monday.
Also discussed was an expansion of the passenger concourse, more lanes at the security checkpoint and added gates by which to board and depart aircraft.
"I'm confident we'll address the needs of customer parking, additional space and things we need to grow," said Terry Hart, the airport's chief executive after a presentation by the planning firm InterVistas Consulting.
No timetable for the work was offered, though the planning initiative is expected to be essentially finished within about three weeks and offer phasing of when actions could take place.
Dan Jacobson, the Airport Authority chairman, termed the roll-out of the plan "insightful" and said he's looking "to see the timing." Also, no cost estimates were given for projects yet.
Jacobson said July boardings of 43,944 passengers were a record at the airport for the month. Delta Air Lines started daily nonstop flights between Chattanooga and New York City in July. Through July, Lovell Field is at 279,043 boardings, up 2.7 percent over last year.
"We're making great progress toward our 500,000 [passenger boarding] target," the airport chairman said.
Hart said a potential parking garage also could hold rental cars on the bottom level. With some existing parking taken by the garage's footprint, the number of net spaces would be about 600 to 700 for passengers, he said.
Brian Mohr of InterVistas said the group will provide capital improvement and implementation plans through about 15 to 20 years.
The long-range effort offers a combination of capital, financial and airport layout plans, he said.
Josh Cohn, also of InterVistas, said the long-range plan calls for expansion of nine or 10 gates located on the runway side of baggage claim. Currently, the airport has five.
He said the location of a potential garage near the terminal "from passenger and operational perception makes the most sense."
The plan also calls for more general aviation hangar space, which currently is about 98 percent full, according to the airport.
Mohr said the plan doesn't show a need to expand the main runway at the airport.
"There's not a compelling reason to show it at this time," he said.
While the long-range plan won't necessarily need Airport Authority approval, moving the various steps forward would need the panel's OK, Hart said.
"We'll go though prioritization," he said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.