The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority is considering shifting its ground-handling operation at McGhee Tyson Airport to a private company as a cost-cutting move.
The Airport Authority's board of commissioners Wednesday approved a contract with the Masters Group for a report that will assess whether baggage handling and other ground duties can be done more cost efficiently by an outside contractor.
The $27,200 study will take several months to complete, said Airport Authority spokeswoman Becky Huckaby.
Huckaby said the trend among airports around the country is to hire businesses to handle ground duties, which include baggage handlers and airport ramp staff.
"It's a feasibility study on contracting ground handling as a way to better control costs," Huckaby said.
Huckaby said The Masters Group will look at personnel, equipment, management and pay structures to compile the report. She stressed that no decision on contracting ground handling work will be made until the report is submitted.
The Airport Authority also awarded a three-year fuel services contract to Eastern Aviation Fuels Inc. of New Bern, N.C., to supply aviation fuel, equipment, payment processing and marketing services to Downtown Island Airport.
Eastern was among four companies bidding on the contract. The others were The Hiller Group of Tampa, Fla., Avfuel Corp. of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Ascent Aviation of Parish, N.Y.
In other action:
* The board of commissioners accepted a $1.7 million grant from the state Division of Aeronautics for operations, maintenance and equipment.
* It passed a resolution supporting American Airlines application for flights between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Beijing, China. Huckaby said American has nonstop service between Knoxville and Dallas/Fort Worth, which would enhance service from Knoxville to China.
She said the number of Knoxville passengers traveling to China annually has increased from 750 in 2001 to 1,660 last year.
* Jeff Cornish was sworn in to a second term on the board. Cornish is president of Performance Transportation Services Inc. of Wayne, Mich.
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Eastern Aviation Fuels is the exclusive distributor of branded aviation fuels for Shell Oil Products US.