Rent Increase Hits Tenants at Lovell

With a 19 percent spike in passenger traffic this year, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport plans to raise fees paid by airlines, car rental firms and other tenants to help cover higher costs.

The airport's new spending plan also includes $9.5 million for capital investment, including $1.1 million for building a parking lot to ease a space crunch.

For the first time in five years, Lovell Field will boost aircraft landing fees, though by just a penny, said Mike Landguth, airport president.

He said airport tenants also will see up to a 1 percent fee increase. Mr. Landguth said the money will meet higher expenses due to the increased traffic.

"We're starting to see positive gains. Also, operating expenses are increasing," he said. Airport officials said group insurance is up sharply as are utility costs.

The fee increases will amount to about $52,500, officials said about the airport's 2008 budget that starts July 1. Revenues are to come in at $6.4 million, up 12 percent. Expenses are to rise 9.5 percent, according to the airport.

Airport authority member Bill Kilbride said traffic is growing, with April boardings 19.5 percent above a year ago.

But keeping landing fees down gives the airport an advantage over its competitors for air service, Mr. Kilbridge said.

Dan Jacobson, authority chairman, said he is encouraged by the higher traffic.

"I'm glad to see the progress we're making financially and in passenger growth," he said.

Concerning parking, airport spokeswoman Christina Siebold said the facility owns land at a couple of sites where it could put a new lot.

"We recognize we have a capacity issue," she said. A new master plan will determine how many spaces will be built, Ms. Siebold said.

Jim Hall, another authority member, suggested finding ways to trim utility costs and "green the airport."

He also cited plans for a terminal face-lift, which it hasn't had since being built in 1992.

"We need to keep ourselves competitive with other airports," Mr. Hall said.

E-mail Mike Pare at

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