ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) - Big news came out of McGhee Tyson Airport Wednesday as they announced 2017 was a record year for the number of passengers flying out.
"I'm headed to Bangalore, India, through Detroit, and I'm going on a mission trip," Jada Bates said.
She is not alone. The airport had a record year in 2017 with 1,988,019 people starting their travels there. That is a nine percent increase over 2016.
The previous record was set in 2005. This new record beats it by 142,528 passengers.
"I think it really shows that the leisure traveler is very interested in Knoxville and the East Tennessee region. And I think the economic impact is growing in this region so there's lots more attention and interest in this airport, getting in and out of this area," said Eddie Manis, Chairman of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority.
McGhee Tyson Airport saw year-over-year growth every month of last year and they set passenger records eight consecutive months of the year last year. The busiest month being October with 200,330 passengers.
"This is my 17th mission trip through here," Bates said. "It seems busier, definitely at other times. I think it's busier in the morning hours than it is in the mid daytime."
A big topic for passengers like Bates when talking about McGhee Tyson is the desire for more airlines and cheaper flights.
"It would be nice occasionally to see the cheaper flights that go to Florida back and forth and not have to use Delta and American all the time," she said.
The airport authority said if the numbers keep going up, that could be a possibility.
"There's no denying that the more passengers that fly through this airport, the more interest we can have from additional service from different airlines, and we continue to look at that and talk to the airlines and court different airlines," Manis said.