Chattanooga Airport Argument Lands at Legislature

A dispute between a Texas-based company providing aviation services at Chattanooga’s airport and the local airport authority board has taken flight and landed in the middle of the Tennessee Legislature, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
TAC Air, a company providing fuel and hangar space for private airplanes at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, is backing a bill that jumps into the dispute.
It would block future use of grants from the state’s Transportation Equity Fund to “compete” against “existing, privately owned” fixed-base operators such as TAC Air.
Three House members and a senator from outside Hamilton County are sponsoring the bill, which is scheduled to come up in the House Transportation Subcommittee and Senate Transportation Committee later this week.
(Note: The legislation is SB912, sponsored by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, and Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma. Reps. Vance Dennis and Terri Lynn Weaver have signed on as co-sponsors with Mathney.))
The company has been fighting with the airport since officials in 2010 unveiled plans to spend $10 million on new facilities for corporate tenants and personal aircraft with the operation run by another company. Airport officials said the facilities, on which some $5 million in grants have been expended, were needed because of complaints about TAC Air.
But TAC Air executives have accused Lovell Field officials of using taxpayer money to effectively ground its existing business.
Pam McAllister, TAC Air’s Chattanooga general manager, said Monday the company is being forced to compete against its own “landlord,” the quasi-governmental airport authority, at taxpayer expense.
“How can we compete fairly when we don’t have access to the funds they do?” she said.

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