Officials at McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) are touting a new report that shows airfares out of Knoxville are dropping.
The report was released by the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). It ranks the county's top 100 airports according to their average airfare. The study found there was a 14.3 percent decrease in average airfare at TYS in the fourth quarter of 2013, when compared to that same time in 2012. That, according to the report, was the second largest drop in average airfare recorded in the study.
"Reducing airfares by working with the airlines that currently serve our airport and by recruiting new flights and airlines that create competition, we are impacting the overall economic success of our region," said Howard Vogel, Chairman of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority's Board of Commissioners. "It is through the continued support of our passengers and discount carriers like Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines that we are seeing dramatic reductions in airfare at McGhee Tyson Airport."
The BTS report put TYS at number 36 on its list of average airfares for the top 100 airports. That's a big drop from 2009, when the airport ranked third on that list. The report also found that the average airfare at the airport has decreased over 28 percent since 2000.
"McGhee Tyson Airport continues to make great strides in reducing airfare for the people of East Tennessee," said Vogel. "It is through the diligent work of the airport's staff and the encouragement and cooperation of community leaders that we are able to continue to work to reduce the cost of air travel into and out of our region."
Knoxville Chamber's Vice President of Economic Development said, "The fact that the airfares have come down at McGhee Tyson is certainly a good sign."
Despite the reduction in the airport's average price, Lawyer said there's still work to do to to keep prices low. That goal is why the Knoxville Chamber created the Competitive Airfare Partnership in May 2013 and is raising money to fund it.
"The funds would be used to help market new service coming into McGhee Tyson. So to help market not only that service here in the Knoxville community but also in markets around the country to get travelers to come in and use potential new lowfare carriers," Lawyer. He added, "Anything we can do to continue lowering the airfare at McGhee Tyson is going to help in our economic development efforts. Businesses when they're making those site locations, that's always one thing they're looking at. They want to know what's it going to cost them to get their employees in and out of this market."