BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — McGhee Tyson Airport is experiencing record-breaking growth, and it’s bringing some big changes for fliers.
To keep up with growing demand, major changes are coming to the infrastructure surrounding the airport.
McGhee Tyson officials announced Wednesday that construction on a 10,000-foot-runway has finished, a big milestone of the $110 million Airfield Modernization Project, a construction upgrade for the airport that also includes the rehabilitation and maintenance of highway taxiways, aprons and terminals.
The airport is also building a second economy parking lot that will hold 450 spaces to be finished by the end of June.
To date, it's one of the biggest construction projects in the airport’s history as it looks to handle new growth after welcoming nearly 2.2 million passengers in 2018.
With growing crowds and long lines now forming at peak times, airport staff are working on several future projects to handle all those passengers.
Officials also said Wednesday a fourth lane space would be added to the airport's TSA checkpoint by the end of 2019.
The airport also recently held TSA Pop-up Pre-Check enrollment events to get more people registered and help make security lines a little shorter.
With the growth in passengers, the airport also said American Airlines will bring back its 124-seat Airbus A319 on June 7 to service its routes, with two of the planes flying each day.
Allegiant Airlines will also add new weekly direct flights to four destinations out of TYS-- Pittsburgh, Destin, Denver and Baltimore/Washington D.C.
And the airport isn't just transporting more people, it’s also shipping more cargo.
In 2018, McGhee Tyson Airport, led by FedEx and UPS, transported a record 82.9 million pounds of air cargo and mail, according to airport officials.
So, what's changed? Airport staff say they believe the growth is due to more nonstop flights and increased flight frequency.
There are also several construction projects in the works near the airport, such as the construction on Alcoa Highway.
The Relocated Alcoa Project is designed to make driving for travelers to and from the airport easier. It's the stretch between Tyson Boulevard to Pellissippi Parkway that many travelers take to get there.
TDOT proposed that the new roadway would be a controlled access facility, with new ramps and interchanges along the route.
With all that's going on at the airport, 2019 is sure to be a busy year for air travel in East Tennessee.