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Airport takes off with two expansions

As the city of Chattanooga continues to grow, the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport is working to keep up with that growth and meet increasing demands on the local aviation industry.

The Airport Authority recently broke ground on a new building on the west side of the airport’s campus that will include a 20,000-square-foot hangar and 13,200-square-foot office.

“We need to listen and respond to needs of the community and address each sector of that business,” said Chattanooga Airport Authority CEO and President Terry Hart. “We’re going to continue to do that. We’ve got great things going on in this area, but we’ve also got some needs and we want to be able to meet those needs.”

He noted that the Airport Authority recently built a fuel farm, new hangar and Wilson Air, a $5 million general aviation terminal, in response to repeated complaints from business leaders and private aviators that the cost of fuel was too high and airport services were lacking in Chattanooga. The competition Wilson Air has provided in the market helped drive down fuel cost for aviators in the area by more than $1, reduced overall airline fees of the providers who use the Chattanooga Airport and helped overall operations at the airport increase as much as 10 percent last year, said Hart.

The Airport Authority anticipates that the new facility will help continue the trends Wilson Air has brought to the airport. A new $2.3 million cargo deck expansion now under way will also allow cargo shipment to increase, said Hart. Companies like Amazon.com and Volkswagen have been influential in increasing local business demand for air cargo transportation and that demand has continued to increase each year, he said. Without the airport’s current expansion, he said it would be difficult for the airport to meet that increasing demand in the future.

In addition to the expansions, the Chattanooga Airport Authority has also begun the process of installing a second solar farm to the airport campus’s west side.

“We just received approval for a second full megawatt farm,” said Hart. “Once complete, we will have a 2-megawatt unit.”

That unit will be responsible for producing the equivalent of 85 percent of the airport’s total energy needs, he said. The second solar farm will be located adjacent the first solar farm and will be placed on land the airport can’t use for aviation purposes due to safety mandates. The solar farm is being funded by a $3 million federal grant.

Both the airport expansion and that of the solar farm are expected to be in use in 2013.

For more information about Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority visit www.chattairport.com.

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