Upper Cumberland Regional Airport officials consider offering commercial flights

Commercial flights could be coming to the Upper Cumberland
Posted at 5:52 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 13:38:06-05

SPARTA, Tenn. (WTVF) — Cookeville resident Allison Keeber said she hates driving to Nashville.

"I mean the airport is somewhat conveniently located but still, it takes time that I would rather not spend. Especially if you have like an early flight to catch in the morning, it can be a hassle," Keeber said.

As the Upper Cumberland continues to grow, so are the needs of its residents.

"We have at least one to two calls a day where people are asking why they can't buy a flight out of here," said airport manager of the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport, Dean Selby. Currently, the airport offers corporate, private and freight operations, but a new study will look at the feasibility of also offering commercial flights.

“Me, personally, I think it might be a good thing. It cuts down on having to go into Nashville, especially because I have a lot of family that live in other places,” said Cookeville resident Calvin Harmon.

The study conducted by an outside consulting firm will look at ticketing data, travel patterns of local residents, and FAA information, among other subjects.

"We already have enough property to handle it and the runway is already long enough and heavy enough to handle the commercial operations that we're talking about, and we're talking one to three flights a week," said Selby. "Not a 20 times a day operation or anything."

The study will cost $25,000, paid for by grant money.

"It could be a flight to a destination that's a leisure destination such as in Florida or one of the coastal cities or something like that. Or we could be looking at a connecting flight in Atlanta, Chicago, or something to that effect," said Selby. "It's part of what this first phase is to establish where we really need to go and what we really need to do."

The study will conclude at the end of March, after which the public can provide input if the idea takes off. If all goes well, commercial flights may be available in as little as three years.