A U.S. Airways jet passes an American Airlines jet, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. The merger of the two airlines has given birth to a mega airline with more passengers than any other in the world. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Ever wanted to fly out of Knoxville, but can't find a plane heading in your direction? Or maybe one is, but you can't afford the ticket? We found out airport officials want to offer more flights and more competition. It's all dependent on you. If the planes won't be full, the airlines won't waste fuel otr time making a stop here.
Stephen Meeks and his family fly out of McGhee Tyson regularly.
His daughter lives in Denver. It's the only non-stop to Denver, but Stephen meeks says, "My daughter lives out there so it'd be nice if it was cheaper."
Cheaper flights are something we all would like to see even airport officials. Vice President of Air Service Development Jim Evans says, "We'd like to particularly see more low fare services because on average our prices are a little higher than we'd like for them to be."
The problem is East Tennessee isn't on the radar for larger airport planners. People in Atlanta and Nashville get the best routes. So Evans tries to spread the message about Knoxville and the Smokies to get more visitors here. He tells me with the news of the recent Dollywood expansion and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's additional 8 million dollars for tourism marketing, they hope airlines will set up shop. Evans says, "That's the harsh reality. Profitability is the only thing airlines look at."
Right now, McGhee Tyson has 6 airlines at its gate. Before mergers, passengers had a choice of 10. The most popular flights are to Orlando, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale and DC, and for Stephen Meeks flights to Denver. Meeks says, "Directly there and directly back is great."
Some people we talked to say they'd like to see direct flights to Boston, Massachusetts and Austin, Texas. Evans says they are in talks right now with low cost carriers and describes the dialogue as "good." Although he wouldn't say which ones, he says there is new interest in our market.
Keep in mind it's big business. And Evans tells me if you're on a flight from Knoxville and it's not full, chances are the flight could be gone in a few weeks. Airlines just don't have the money to continue landing here if all the seats aren't sold.
In case you didn't hear the news, passengers can no longer fly direct to Memphis from McGhee Tyson. Delta eliminated that route since it was used mainly as a hub for other destinations.