The Chattanooga Airport has passed the 500,000 emplanement mark in a year for the first time.
Terry Hart, Airport president, said the final tally for 2018 was 504,298.
The number of passengers was 1,200,414.
Mr. Hart said, "Our catchment area seems to keep growing - especially in North Georgia."
He said just prior to the Super Bowl in Atlanta "we saw a lot of people wearing Rams and Patriots jerseys. They could get here easier and less costly."
Mr. Hart said all the airport carriers had increases for the year.
He also told members of the Airport Authority that phase 3 of the 640 KW solar installation at the Airport is finishing up. He said all of the solar panels have been installed and the units are being wired. He said they will be turned on by TVA soon to start producing electricity.
The Airport president also said that work is moving forward on a new 520-space parking lot by Airport Road. He said when he arrived at the Airport 11 years ago there were 1,200 parking spaces. There are now 2,082. With the addition of the work that is underway, it will be close to 2,900.
He said the new space will be need when some current lots go out of service as a parking deck is being constructed.
The Airport will erect a digital sign on Shepherd Road alerting incoming Airport users which parking lots are full and which are open. Cost of that project is $39,496.
Mr. Hart said the Airport plans to discontinue use of an underground fuel storage farm on the west side of the facility. He said there are issues with larger tankers making their way to the facility. He said concerning possible leaks from the tanks, "It is not a question of if, but when."
To take its place, new tanks that hold over 60,000 gallons of aviation fuel will go in on the north side. He said Titan Aviation will cover the costs of the installation that will be between $650,000 and a high of $754,000. Titan will be repaid through an extra penny per gallon charge that will be retained until the debt is paid.
In return, the Airport is giving Titan a seven-year extension on its contract to provide fuel at the Airport.
The Airport will be working with TDEC on the closing of the underground tanks. It is not yet known whether the tanks will have to be taken up.
Airline fuel use at the Airport was up 33 percent last year. Most of the fuel comes from Doraville, Ga., and some from Birmingham.
Also, the buildings from the 1950s at the former Air National Guard facility at the Airport have been torn down. The site is to be cleared and held for future use. It is expected to be utilized for additional hangars.
Mr. Hart said the Airport is also buying two older homes at a 2.4-acre site at 605 Watts Ave. on the edge of the Airport. They will be torn down and a maintenance facility may be constructed there. The owner asked $250,000 and an appraisal came in at $220,000. The agreed price was $235,000. Mr. Hart termed it "a very fair price."