Allegiant Air flights continue to spur gains in passenger boardings at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport with May's overall traffic up more than 22 percent compared with a year ago.
Only in September and October 2002 -- a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks -- were percentage increases larger in the past 10 years, according to airport figures.
Allegiant, which began flying low-fare jets between Lovell Field and Orlando and Tampa Bay late last year, filled over 89 percent of its available seats in May, airport figures show. That's the best of airlines flying out of Chattanooga, according to airport data.
Mike Landguth, Airport Authority president, said he'd like more flights out of Chattanooga to Florida as well as Allegiant nonstops to Las Vegas.
"We've positioned ourselves," he told panel members at a meeting Monday. "It's a timing issue and availability of aircraft. We'll continue to put pressure on them."
Authority member Moses Freeman cited a recent news account of long lines at Atlanta's airport due to security.
"We ought to get some of that traffic this way," he said.
The authority agreed to hire Raker Airline and Airport Consulting to develop a presentation for the airport to talk to carriers about added service.
In addition, the company will update the airport's air service master plan. Mr. Landguth said the airport will pay Raker $30,000.
He also said an ad campaign ran this spring to try to woo Orlando area travelers to Chattanooga on Allegiant. It's too early to know the results, the airport official said.
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The move slated for Dec. 1 will begin with Allegiant Air flights, but officials would like to expand it to other carriers.
The airport panel agreed to create a general manager's position to oversee the Allegiant ground and ticketing operations in Chattanooga.
The runway project, costing an estimated $3 million, would increase the length of the landing strip to 7,900 feet.
Allegiant Air takes flight from Chattanooga today with nonstops to Orlando as the carrier tries to grow new leisure business in the market.