Airport takes steps to keep up with growth | News

The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority is launching plans to offset the surge in passenger numbers and forecasts for future growth over the next decade.

In a comparison between December 2020 and 2021, MKAA reported a 90% increase in total passengers and a 72% increase in passengers for the full year.

Between departures and arrivals, McGhee Tyson Airport handled 1,995,185 passengers in 2021.

With MTA adding round trips to Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Minneapolis-St. Paul Airports and opening a second, longer runway, the MKAA expects rapid growth.

New businesses, namely Amazon and Smith & Wesson, will also be moving into Blount County in the coming years.

To accommodate an increase in passenger numbers, the MKAA is planning a second parking lot north of the current one. While this garage is being built, they are opening a temporary surface lot with access from Tyson Boulevard and Airfield Drive.

Once abandoned, the MKAA can use the land for additional hangars.

C2RL, Inc. is designing the MKAA design and submitted a parking layout plan to the Alcoa Planning Commission on February 17, which was unanimously approved.

A letter from C2RL to Alcoa city planner Jeremy Pearson said the land would include short-term and long-term parking and was expected to be in place for five to 10 years. He added that a shuttle will service the grounds and drop off travelers at the lower entrance canopy.

Ron Whittaker spoke on behalf of C2RL at the commission meeting and said the car park will have 1,100 paid spaces.

Whittaker added that the airport will eventually get land from the Tennessee Department of Transportation after the Alcoa Freeway move is complete. Once received, he said the land could be paved in permanent surface parking.

Becky Huckaby, vice president of public relations for the MKAA, said the approval of the site plan for the temporary parking lot is the first in a series of requests the planning commission will see regarding the MTA’s growth.

Since the MKAA is early in the process, Huckaby said the total cost of the projects has yet to be determined.

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