Tri-Cities Airport Awarded Small Community Air Service Development Program Grant

Blountville, TN – Tri-Cities Airport Authority (TCAA) is one of 20 airports from across the United States to be awarded a Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The $900,000 grant will be used to incentivize an air carrier to provide nonstop service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

The SCASDP grant will allow the TCAA to provide a minimum revenue guarantee (MRG), start-up costs, and marketing support to an airline partner for new air service to the Chicago hub.

“We are excited to be awarded the SCASDP grant and the opportunity it provides for our region,” said Gene Cossey, Executive Director of Tri-Cities Airport. “The grant can help us recruit an airline to provide this important connection for our community, and ultimately help stimulate additional economic growth for our region. It is important to note the grant is not a guarantee of service to Chicago. However, it is a new tool in our toolbox as we continue to persistently market the Chicago opportunity to carriers.”

The grant application process was highly competitive, with up to $15 million in funding available for no more than 40 communities. In determining grant recipients, the Department of Transportation was directed to give priority to communities with (1) airfares higher than the national average, (2) higher levels of cash contributions outside of airport sources, (3) establishment of a public-private partnership, (4) the assistance will be used to restore lost air service, (5) the assistance will provide material benefit to a broad segment of the traveling public, and (6) assistance will be used in a timely manner. TRI met all these requirements.

“I am thrilled to have played a role in supporting the possible establishment of a direct flight between the Tri-Cities Airport and Chicago through the Small Community Air Service Development Program grant,” said Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger. “Improving the lives of residents in East Tennessee remains my top priority as a legislator. A nonstop flight would enhance convenience for travelers, bolster tourism, and strengthen our business community.”

“The Airport Authority is committed to enhancing air service for our community and the SCASDP grant award is a significant step toward achieving that goal,” said Bill Sorah, TCAA Board Chair. “We are grateful for the tremendous support received from the region both in committing matching funds and providing letters of support for the grant application.” According to the order soliciting SCADP grant applications, “applications that provide multiple levels of contributions (State, local, cash, and in-kind contributions) will be viewed more favorably”. The region’s 48% in matching funds, in-kind support and airport funds along with the community letters of support were an important component in TCAA’s award of the SCASDP grant. The TCAA is grateful for the support of the following organizations:

The SCASDP grant is designed to provide financial assistance to small communities to help them enhance their air service. The U.S. Department of Transportation provides this assistance in the form of grants that are disbursed on a reimbursable basis. In past years, the Department’s individual grant sizes have ranged from $20,000 to nearly $1.6 million.

About TRI
Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) is a full-service commercial airport serving Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina, and Eastern Kentucky. TRI offers non-stop flights to five hubs (Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Orland Sanford, and St. Pete-Clearwater) on Allegiant, American, and Delta. For more information about Tri-Cities Airport, visit