Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport officials Monday laid out a $35 million improvement plan for the next five years, including adding 500 feet to the main runway to handle larger aircraft.
The runway project, costing an estimated $3 million, would increase the length of the landing strip to 7,900 feet, said airport President Mike Landguth.
He told Airport Authority members the work to the runway's south end would go on property already owned by the airport and not disrupt roads or businesses.
Mr. Landguth said the project, slated to begin in 2009, would enable larger planes to land at the airport as officials look at wooing more service to the West.
Officials mentioned increases they've seen in boardings on regional jets flown by Continental Express and American Eagle from Chattanooga to Houston and Dallas.
Dan Jacobson, the authority's chairman, cited an overall surge in boardings at the airport so far this year of 20 percent.
"These are good numbers," he said.
Most of the traffic hike is driven by Allegiant Air's service to Orlando and Tampa Bay, which began late last year, figures show.
"We're starting to pull back some of the leakage we've had in the past," Mr. Landguth said, noting the bleed-off of Chattanooga air travelers to airports in Atlanta and Nashville.
Another key improvement project outlined by airport officials is an updated access control system to enhance security. That project is scheduled to start this year.
About $30 million of the plan's price tag would come from federal funds, Mr. Landguth said.
Half of the $5 million local share would come from the state, he said, with the remainder from the airport.
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