McGhee Tyson Airport

Coordinates: 35°48′40″N 083°59′38″W / 35.81111°N 83.99389°W / 35.81111; -83.99389
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McGhee Tyson Airport

McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base
View of terminal building
Airport typePublic
OwnerMetropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority
ServesKnoxville, Tennessee
LocationAlcoa, Tennessee, U.S.
Operating base forAllegiant Air
Elevation AMSL986 ft / 301 m
Coordinates35°48′40″N 083°59′38″W / 35.81111°N 83.99389°W / 35.81111; -83.99389
FAA airport diagram as of May 2023
FAA airport diagram as of May 2023
Direction Length Surface
ft m
05L/23R 10,000 3,048 Asphalt
05R/23L 9,000 2,743 Asphalt
Statistics (2023)
Aircraft operations104,459
Total freight (lbs.)76,522,366
Sources: McGhee Tyson Airport[1][2]

McGhee Tyson Airport (IATA: TYS[3], ICAO: KTYS, FAA LID: TYS) is a public/military airport 12 miles (19 km) south of Knoxville,[4] in Alcoa, Tennessee. It is named for United States Navy pilot Charles McGhee Tyson, who was killed in World War I.[5]

Owned by the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, it is served by several major airlines and employs about 2,700 people.[6] It is a 30-minute drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.[7] The airport is the home of McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, an air base for the 134th Air Refueling Wing (134 ARW) of the Tennessee Air National Guard.


On August 1, 1930, the original McGhee Tyson airport opened, named for Charles McGhee Tyson. It was built on 60 acres (24 ha) in West Knoxville where West High School is now located. In 1935, the city purchased 351 acres (142 ha) in Blount County for the current airport. On July 29, 1937, an American Airlines Stinson Trimotor (about 10 seats) touched down, the first airline flight; before that, American's Stinsons landed at Island Airport on Dickinson Island east of town. The 1938 directory shows a 3,100-foot (940 m) N–S runway and a 4,200-foot (1,300 m) NE-SW runway at McGhee Tyson;[8] the 1939 directory shows 4,000 feet (1,200 m) N–S and 5,000 feet (1,500 m) NE-SW. The city built a control tower in 1941.

The development of TYS helped the City of Alcoa diversify its economy and gain its economic independence from what is today Arconic Inc. (formerly Alcoa Inc.), the world's third largest producer of aluminum.[9] Alcoa Inc. built one of its production plants in Alcoa because of the proximity of dams along the Little Tennessee River which were a hydroelectric energy source for the production of aluminum.[9]

In 1951, the United States Air Force built several facilities on the field and 7,500-foot (2,300 m) runway 5L. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) added an Instrument landing system to runways 5L and 23R in 1959. In 1961, with financing by the Tennessee Air National Guard, runway 5L was extended to 9,000 feet (2,700 m). The first scheduled airline jets were Delta DC-9s in December 1965.

In 1968, McGhee Tyson built a new air cargo facility; a new passenger terminal opened in 1974, a few years after runway 18/36 closed. Four years later, the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority (MKAA) was established. In 1990, runway 5R/23L was rebuilt to 9,000 feet (2,700 m). In 1992, the airport authority built a new 21-acre cargo facility on the north side of the airport for Federal Express, UPS and Airborne Express. Buildings were designed to meet the carriers' needs; 90% of the air cargo operations are UPS and Federal Express. Cost of the project was estimated at $9.3 million.

In 2000, improvements to the passenger terminal were finished at a cost of $70 million, including two new concourses, 12 new gates, ticket counters, and a Ruby Tuesday restaurant. In 2002 an aircraft maintenance facility was built for Northwest Airlines, serving as their primary CRJ MRO facility.[10] The now-defunct ExpressJet Airlines built a heavy-maintenance hangar near the air cargo facilities for its fleet. In June 2009, a new food court was completed, featuring Starbucks, Quiznos, Cinnabon, and Zia locations.[11] The Zia location was replaced in April 2013 with an Uno Express Pizza.[12][non-primary source needed]

In November 2016, the agency that operates McGhee Tyson received a $27.9 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to complete the next phase of a multi-year runway expansion, the most expensive project the airport ever has undertaken.[13] The north runway, 5L/23R, is being lengthened to 10,000 feet (3,000 m). During the work, 3,000 feet (910 m) of that runway were demolished while 6,000 feet (1,800 m) remained open for small planes. Airliners still land on Runway 5R/23L, which will remain 9,000 feet (2,700 m) long.[14]

On December 17, 2021, the rebuilt 10,000-foot runway 5L/23R reopened.


McGhee Tyson Airport covers 2,250 acres (9.1 km2) at an elevation of 986 feet (301 m). It has two parallel runways: 5L/23R is 10,000 by 150 feet (3,048 x 46 m) concrete and 5R/23L is 9,000 by 150 feet (2,743 x 46 m) asphalt.[4][15][16]

The fixed-base operator (FBO) at TYS is Signature Aviation, the parent company of Signature Flight Support. In July 2022 Signature Aviation announced the acquisition of the TAC Air division of TAC (Truman Arnold Companies) and the FBO was rebranded to join the Signature network.

Originally, Tac Air first moved into TYS on April 1, 2005, when it purchased Knox-Air, which had operated in TYS since 1974. Then a month later, on May 5, 2005, TAC Air purchased the only remaining FBO, Cherokee Aviation, which had been in operation since 1954. TAC Air combined these two FBOs under their own name, and they were the sole supplier of aviation fuel for commercial, corporate and general aviation aircraft as well as leased hangar space at the airport.

In 2023, the airport had 104,459 aircraft operations, averaging 286 per day: 46,858 general aviation, 18,433 air taxi, 9,952 military, and 29,216 air carrier.[17] In 2023, 186 aircraft were based at the airport: 84 single-engine, 26 multi-engine, 50 jet, 22 military, and 4 helicopter.[4]

TYS is home to a maintenance base for Endeavor Air, crew base for Allegiant Air, and delivery, maintenance and training centers for Cirrus Aircraft.


McGhee Tyson Airport has two levels. The top level is accessed via the curbside drop off and the parking garage. The top level has ticket counters, security, gates, restaurants and shops. It is designed with a Smoky Mountain theme, complete with faux waterfalls and wood carvings of bears. The bottom level is used for car rental counters, three baggage claims, airline offices, and airport offices.

Airbus A320 in Gate 2 at Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport

There are 12 gates. On a regular day Gates 2 & 4 are used by Allegiant Air, Gate 6 is a common use gate, Gates 8, 10, & 12 are used by American, Gates 1, 3 & 5 are used by Delta, and Gates 7, 9, & 11 are used by United. Gate assignments can be subject to change.

In July 2023, the airport announced the planning of a six-gate expansion to the terminal, with a target completion date of 2028, to meet the growing needs of the region.[18]

In January 2024, airport officials announced they would be closing part of the airport's long-term parking lot to begin a project that would expand the current garage to six stories and add 3,500 parking spots.[19]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Allegiant Air Belleville/St. Louis (begins June 13, 2024),[20] Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville (FL) (begins June 14, 2024),[21] Las Vegas, Newark, Orlando,[22] Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix–Sky Harbor,[23] Punta Gorda, South Bend (begins June 14, 2024),[21] St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Austin,[24] Baltimore,[25] Boston,[24] Chicago–Midway,[24] Denver, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Houston–Hobby,[24] Minneapolis/St. Paul, Myrtle Beach,[25] Sarasota,[25] West Palm Beach[25]
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington–National [27]
Avelo Airlines New Haven (CT)[28] [29]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta[30]
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul (resumes June 7, 2024),[31] New York–LaGuardia [30]
Frontier Airlines Denver, Orlando, Philadelphia[32] [33]
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare (begins August 19, 2024), Denver [34]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Washington–Dulles [34]


Ameriflight Louisville
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis, Norfolk, Richmond
UPS Airlines Louisville, Miami


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from TYS (November 2022 – October 2023)[35]
Rank Airport Passengers Airline
1 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, Georgia 240,000 Delta
2 North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina 154,000 American
3 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 143,000 American
4 Illinois Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 98,000 American, United
5 Colorado Denver, CO 81,000 Allegiant, Frontier, United
6 Michigan Detroit, Michigan 78,000 Delta
7 Florida St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 59,000 Allegiant
8 Virginia Washington, D.C. 53,000 American
9 New York (state) New York-LaGuardia, NY 53,000 American, Delta
10 Florida Fort Lauderdale, FL 50,000 Allegiant

Airline Market Share[edit]

Largest Airlines at TYS
(November 2022 – October 2023)
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Allegiant Air 718,000 26.79%
2 American Airlines 400,000 14.94%
3 Delta Air Lines 332,000 12.39%
4 PSA Airlines 320,000 11.96%
5 Endeavor Air 292,000 10.91%
Other 617,000 23.01%

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On August 6, 1962, American Airlines Flight 414, a Lockheed L-188A Electra attempting to land at TYS in high winds associated with a thunderstorm veered off the right side of runway 04L and struck the raised edge of a taxiway that was under construction, causing the right hand main gear to separate. There were no fatalities and only one minor injury among the 67 passengers and 5 crew, but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair and written off.[37]
  • On March 12, 1992, a USAir Express Jetstream 31 crashed on landing after the pilot failed to lower the landing gear. There were no passengers aboard, but the two crew members were killed.[38]


  1. ^ "TYS Airport Statistics for 2023" (PDF). Retrieved April 26, 2023.
  2. ^ "TYS Airport Stats 2018–2023". 5 January 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2024.
  3. ^ "IATA Airport Code Search (TYS: Knoxville / McGhee Tyson)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c FAA Airport Form 5010 for TYS PDF. Federal Aviation Administration. effective December 28, 2023.
  5. ^ "History of the Airport". McGhee Tyson Airport. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008.
  6. ^ "About McGhee Tyson Airport". Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. Archived from the original on 2012-12-15.
  7. ^ City of Alcoa, official website
  8. ^ Descriptions of airports and landing fields in the United States. Airway bulletin ;no. 2. United States Government Printing Office. 1938.
  9. ^ a b City of Alcoa. "Welcome to the City of Alcoa / City of Alcoa – City of Alcoa".
  10. ^ "Investor Relations – Corporate Profile". Pinnacle Airlines Corp. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12.
  11. ^ Marcum, Ed (June 6, 2009). "Airport's food court opens". Knoxville News Sentinel.
  12. ^ "Uno Express Pizza Opens". April 12, 2013 – via Facebook.
  13. ^ "McGhee Tyson Airport lands $27.9 million federal grant". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  14. ^ "Longer runway aims for longer reach". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  15. ^ "TYS airport data at". Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  16. ^ Gaines, Jim (January 1, 2017). "Longer runway aims for longer reach". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  17. ^ "TYS Airport Stats for 2023" (PDF). Retrieved March 11, 2024.
  18. ^ "McGhee Tyson Airport expands as Knoxville region grows". 22 July 2023.
  19. ^ Jordan, Avery (2024-02-02). "McGhee Tyson Airport to close portion of parking lot to prepare for parking garage expansion project". Retrieved 2024-02-07.
  20. ^ . February 12, 2024 Retrieved February 13, 2024. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^ "Allegiant will begin flying out of Orlando International Airport next year". ClickOrlando. November 16, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  23. ^ "Allegiant Announces Nine New Nonstop Routes to Premier Spring Break Destinations with Fares as Low as $39* | Allegiant Travel Company".
  24. ^ a b c d "Allegiant Air offering new flights from Knoxville to Boston, Houston, Chicago & more". Retrieved 11 April 2024.
  25. ^ a b c d "Allegiant Air". Retrieved 11 April 2024.
  26. ^ "Allegiant Air". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  27. ^ "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  28. ^ "Avelo announces 4 new destinations from New Haven, including Atlanta". New Haven Register. February 6, 2024. Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  29. ^ "Destinations". Avelo Airlines. Retrieved January 18, 2022.
  30. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  31. ^ "Delta Air Lines to Resume Two Routes from Minneapolis in June 2024". 31 October 2023.
  32. ^ "Frontier Airlines increases summer schedule at PHL by 47% with 10 new routes". February 7, 2024. Retrieved February 7, 2024.
  33. ^ "Frontier". USA Today.
  34. ^ a b "Timetable". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  35. ^ "Knoxville, TN: McGhee Tyson (TYS)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  36. ^ "RITA BTS Transtats – TYS". Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  37. ^ Accident description for N6102A at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on April 26, 2023.
  38. ^ Accident description for N165PC at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on April 26, 2023.

External links[edit]