The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport is changing its concessions operator.
Terry Hart, president and CEO of the Airport Authority, said Airhost will be leaving the airport effective at the end of September.
For the early exit, the airport is having to pay the firm $498,500 in two equal payments.
However, Mr. Hart said the new operator, Tailwind Concessions, has agreed to cover tht $498,500 in its first year of operation.
In addition, Tailwind will be paying the airport 10 percent of gross sales. The airport got five percent from Airhost.
Mr. Hart said Airhost was doing about $800,000 to $900,000 per year, but he expects the new firm to improve that to $1.2 million.
He said airport customers were unhappy with Airhost. Gene Veazey, board member, agreed. He said, "I only ate there once."
Mr. Hart said the new agreement "was developed in response to persistent feedback from airport customers and employees.
“We listened closely to our customers and employees and feel that this is a very strong solution to provide a superior quality food and beverage experience and outstanding service. The new service will also be complimented with the completely renovated concession areas in the terminal and gate areas.”
Tailwind Concessions has been an innovative concessions provider since 2001 and specializes in creating unique concession environments in regional airports, it was stated. The firm currently serves airports in nine cities across the country, including Tri Cities, Tn., Gainesville, Fla., Bloomington, Ill., and Shreveport, La.
Tailwind Concessions will begin operation Oct. 1 in a temporary location until the terminal renovation is complete in February 2014. Then it will move into the newly renovated quarters.
Mr. Hart said requests for proposals were sent to 20 operators, and Tailwind had the only response. He said the likely cause was the provision that the new operator cover the $498,500.