NATA Escalates Chattanooga Feud
The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has upped the ante in the dispute over an airport-sponsored FBO at Chattanooga’s Lovell Field Airport. In a letter sent to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, NATA president and CEO James Coyne expresses continuing concerns over the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority’s (CMAA) alleged use of more than $10 million in government grants to establish its own FBO to compete with the existing Tac Air facility, to which the CMAA also serves as the landlord.
The CMAA said that it created the new FBO–managed by Wilson Air Center as the fourth location in its chain–to address customer concerns of uncompetitive fuel pricing at the airport. According to Coyne, such airport-owned FBOs accept government grants that give them a competitive advantage over privately operated businesses, creating an unlevel playing field and potentially chilling private investment at airports.
In the letter, Coyne tasks Haslam with reconsidering whether his state should grant the CMAA additional funding to support the airport-run facility, which opened last summer and has since been operating at a deficit.