CHATTANOOGA AIRPORT IN THE 1990s - 2020s
Chattanooga's new terminal opened in 1992 and featured a new concourse and this central rotunda, pictured in an early 1990s postcard. The ticket lobby of the old 1964 terminal was incorporated into the design but all pre-1960s structures and the old concourse were demolished.
This photo from the collection of the Chattanooga History Center and the airport was taken in May 1991 during construction. A corner of the old 1964 terminal can be seen at far right.
Despite the beautiful new terminal and expanded facilities, traffic continued to decline in the 1990s and was down more than 30% from the pre-Deregulation glory days of the 1970s. Delta Air Lines, which had served the city since 1947, left Chattanooga in 1995 and replaced their mainline jets with Delta Connection flights operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines. ASA operated the CHA - ATL route with turboprop ATR-72s and BAe-146 jets, seen here. Boardings declined another 20% following the departure of Delta.
Early 2000s view of an ASA / Delta Connection ATR-72 on the ramp at Chattanooga. Photo source: Times Free Press.
Another early 2000s view showing a Northwest Airlink Regional Jet and a US Airways Express DHC-8 at the terminal. Photo source: Central Jets.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, all commercial passenger flights at Chattanooga were handled by codeshare affiliates of major airlines using regional jets and turboprops. This list of destinations and airlines from March 2005 shows that the largest airliners serving the city at the time were the 66-passenger ATR-72 turboprops flown by ASA.
Curbside view at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport in the 2000s. Photo source: Central Jets.
Low fare carrier Allegiant Airlines began service between Chattanooga and St. Petersburg and Orlando-Sanford in December 2006 using MD-80s. The flights were an immediate success. Overall traffic at Chattanooga increased over 22% in the year following Allegiant's arrival.
Allegiant's December 2006 schedule shows a total of 8 weekly flights to and from CHA.
Following Allegiant's success in connecting Chattanooga with Florida vacation spots using alternate and underused airports, Vision Airlines began nonstop 737 service between CHA and Destin / Ft. Walton beach in 2011. Unfortunately, the flights were unsuccessful and ended in less than a year.
Vision Airlines flight schedule effective June 1, 2011 shows four weekly flights at Chattanooga. Note the 6 hour and 5 minute connecting flight to Atlanta!
Delta Air Lines returned to Chattanooga on September 6, 2012 following a 17-year hiatus. Nonstops between CHA and Atlanta were flown with DC-9-50s acquired in the merger with Northwest and MD-88s, the same aircraft that Delta used on the route two decades earlier. Photo source: Chattanooga Airport.
Southern Airways Express flew 9-passenger Cessna Caravans between Chattanooga and Memphis during 2014 and 2015. Photo source: Chattanooga Airport Facebook page.
Circa 2014 view of the central rotunda at Chattanooga Airport. Photo source: Central Jets.
The footprints of former terminals are clearly visible in this 2016 Google photo and appear as the slightly tan colored concrete areas surrounded by grey pavement. The site of the 1964 concourse can be seen extending from the terminal off to the bottom left. The ticket lobby of the 1964 terminal is still standing to the right of the rotunda. Just above that, the slightly orange tinted pavement marks the footprint of the 1930 terminal and its numerous additions.
And, last but not least, a 2016 Google view at right, roughly matched up with the perspective of an artist's concept of the "jet age" terminal 52 years earlier.
I hope you have enjoyed this look back at the nearly century-long history of air service at Chattanooga. Special thanks to Bill Peterson for prompting me to put this together and for sending a wealth of material, some of which has yet to be added. Bill wrote an excellent article on John Lovell, namesake of Lovell Field. Also, many thanks to Picnooga for allowing me to include dozens of their amazing photos. Other images came from the Chattanooga Airport collection, the Chattanooga Public Library collection, my personal collection of timetables and postcards, the Timetable Images website and others.