- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport hit a record for passengers in 2016, prompting discussions about more flights, gates and parking.

The Times Free Press reports (https://bit.ly/2jolgif ) more than 419,000 passengers boarded planes at the airport in 2016. It’s the first time the airport crossed the 400,000 passenger mark, and a 6.8 percent increase over 2015.

Airport CEO Terry Hart says boardings are up 38 percent over five years.

Hart says officials will start crafting a new master plan within six months, and likely finish by the end of 2018.

He says the plan will look at possibly adding more gates, a parking garage and flights to hub cities, including Houston.

Hart says the airport benefits from the area’s growing economy, while new nonstop options let more travelers avoid driving to larger airports.

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, https://www.timesfreepress.com

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