Chattanooga airport to buy out TAC Air, but remains tight lipped on deal

TAC Air's Chattanooga office (photo by CHRIS BUTLER)

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

CHATTANOOGA — The Chattanooga Airport Authority announced Friday it will use $12 million of taxpayer money to buy out TAC Air’s hangar and office facilities, but authority members still refuse to answer questions about the deal.

Tennessee Watchdog wanted to ask about remarks airport CEO Terry Hart made to the Chattanooga Times Free Press Friday in which he seemingly suggested it’s OK to pour taxpayer money into a venture even if it doesn’t offer a return on investment.

“We’re not a profit driver,” the newspaper quoted Hart as saying.

TAC Air’s Chattanooga office

As has been the case for a week and a half, airport authority spokesman Albert Waterhouse didn’t return our messages seeking comment.

Tennessee Watchdog then called authority member Thomas Snow, who said he wouldn’t comment.

“I don’t believe it would be appropriate for me to say anything,” Snow said.

Tennessee Watchdog also left a message with authority member Bob McKamey, but he didn’t respond before Monday’s publication time.

Authority member Mike Mallen refused to talk to us last week.

As previously reported, in 2010 the airport authority used $4 million in state grant funding from the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division to compete against the private TAC Air.

As a fixed base of operations, TAC Air provided fuel and other services. Airport authority officials have admitted the taxpayer-subsidized FBO, under the management of Wilson Air, has lost more than $1 million of taxpayer money.

City council member Larry Grohn told Tennessee Watchdog that airport authority members have done little to provide public transparency into the deal.

“They aren’t answering questions. They’re just stonewalling everybody,” Grohn said. “It’s actually quite disturbing.”

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Wilson Air will oversee TAC Air’s former facilities, which had made up 75 percent of the hangar space at the airport. Additionally, airport officials said they want to use that space to create a new parking lot.

Airport officials said in 2011 they were only using taxpayer money against TAC Air to prevent the company from having a monopoly there. There was no indication Monday they will seek competition for Wilson Air.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

Get regular Tennessee Watchdog updates through our Facebook or Twitter accounts

Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!

Please, feel free to “steal our stuff”! Just remember to credit Watchdog.org. Find out more

The post Chattanooga airport to buy out TAC Air, but remains tight lipped on deal appeared first on Watchdog.org.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

Top