McGhee Tyson Airport

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McGhee Tyson Airport

McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base
McGhee Tyson Logo.png
Airport typePublic
OwnerMetropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority
ServesKnoxville, Tennessee
LocationAlcoa, Tennessee, U.S.
Focus city forAllegiant Air
Elevation AMSL979 ft / 298 m
Coordinates35°48′40″N 083°59′38″W / 35.81111°N 83.99389°W / 35.81111; -83.99389Coordinates: 35°48′40″N 083°59′38″W / 35.81111°N 83.99389°W / 35.81111; -83.99389
FAA airport diagram as of January 2021
FAA airport diagram as of January 2021
TYS is located in Tennessee
TYS is located in the United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
05L/23R 10,000 3,048 Asphalt
05R/23L 9,000 2,743 Asphalt
Statistics (2019)
Aircraft operations106,584
Sources: McGhee Tyson Airport[1]

McGhee Tyson Airport (IATA: TYS[2], ICAO: KTYS, FAA LID: TYS) is a public/military airport 12 miles south of Knoxville,[3] in Alcoa, Blount County, Tennessee, United States. It is named for United States Navy pilot Charles McGhee Tyson, who was killed in World War I.[4]

Owned by the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, it is served by several major airlines and employs about 2,700 people.[5] It is a 30-minute drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.[6] 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 on 60 acres in West Knoxville. In 1935, the city purchased 351 acres 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 3100-ft N-S runway and a 4200-ft NE-SW runway at McGhee Tyson;[7] the 1939 directory shows 4000 ft N-S and 5000 ft 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 Alcoa Inc., the world's third largest producer of aluminum.[8] 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.[8]

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. 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.[9] 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.[10] The Zia location was replaced in April 2013 with an Uno Express Pizza.[11]

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.[12] The north runway, 5L/23R, is being lengthened to 10,000 feet. During the work, 3,000 feet of that runway were demolished while 6,000 feet remained open for small planes. Airliners still land on Runway 5R/23L, which will remain 9,000 feet long.[13]

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


McGhee Tyson Airport covers 2,250 acres (911 ha) at an elevation of 979 feet (298 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.[3][14][15]

The fixed-base operator (FBO) at TYS is the Truman-Arnold Company (TAC Air). 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 have continued to be the sole supplier of aviation fuel for commercial, corporate and general aviation aircraft as well as leased hangar space at the airport ever since.

In 2017, the airport had 106,584 aircraft operations, averaging 292 per day: 43,598 general aviation, 21,450 air taxi, 20,271 military, and 21,265 airline. In 2017, 168 aircraft were based at the airport: 62 single-engine, 32 multi-engine, 35 military, 38 jet and 1 helicopter.[3]

TYS is home to a maintenance base for Endeavor Air, crew base for Allegiant Airlines, 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, two baggage claims, airline offices, and airport offices. There are 12 gates. On a regular day Gates 2 & 4 are used by Allegiant Air, Gate 6 is used by Frontier, 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.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Allegiant Air Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Hobby, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul,[16] Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix–Sky Harbor,[17] St. Petersburg/Clearwater, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Austin, Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Denver, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Myrtle Beach,[18] Newark, West Palm Beach, Sarasota[19]
American Airlines Charlotte (resumes November 3, 2022), Dallas/Fort Worth
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Philadelphia, Washington–National [21]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [22]
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit, New York–LaGuardia [22]
Frontier Airlines Denver,
Seasonal: Orlando
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Washington–Dulles [24]


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


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from TYS (November 2019 - October 2020)[25]
Rank Airport Passengers Airline
1 Atlanta, Georgia 114,620 Delta
2 Charlotte, North Carolina 83,820 American
3 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 62,590 American
4 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 52,220 American, United
5 Orlando–Sanford, Florida 42,390 Allegiant
6 St. Petersburg, Florida 33,120 Allegiant
7 Denver, Colorado 30,960 Allegiant, Frontier, United
8 Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 29,890 United
9 Detroit, Michigan 28,590 Delta
10 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 27,720 Allegiant

Airline market share[edit]

Largest airlines at TYS
(October 2018 – September 2019)
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Endeavor Air 484,000 20.26%
2 Allegiant Air 480,000 20.10%
3 PSA Airlines 265,000 11.09%
4 Delta Air Lines 208,000 8.71%
5 SkyWest Airlines 196,000 8.19%
6 Other 756,000 31.65%

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 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.[27]


  1. ^ "Airport Statistics". McGhee Tyson Airport.
  2. ^ "IATA Airport Code Search (TYS: Knoxville / McGhee Tyson)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c FAA Airport Form 5010 for TYS PDF. Federal Aviation Administration. effective November 15, 2012.
  4. ^ "History of the Airport". McGhee Tyson Airport. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008.
  5. ^ "About McGhee Tyson Airport". Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. Archived from the original on 2012-12-15.
  6. ^ City of Alcoa, official website
  7. ^ Descriptions of airports and landing fields in the United States. Airway bulletin ;no. 2. United States Government Printing Office. 1938.
  8. ^ a b City of Alcoa. "Welcome to the City of Alcoa / City of Alcoa - City of Alcoa".
  9. ^ "Investor Relations - Corporate Profile". Pinnacle Airlines Corp. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12.
  10. ^ Marcum, Ed (June 6, 2009). "Airport's food court opens". Knoxville News Sentinel.
  11. ^ "Uno Express Pizza Opens". Facebook. April 12, 2013.
  12. ^ "McGhee Tyson Airport lands $27.9 million federal grant". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  13. ^ "Longer runway aims for longer reach". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  14. ^ "TYS airport data at". Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  15. ^ Gaines, Jim (January 1, 2017). "Longer runway aims for longer reach". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  16. ^ "New Nonstop Airline Routes | Allegiant®".
  17. ^ "Allegiant Announces Nine New Nonstop Routes to Premier Spring Break Destinations with Fares as Low as $39* | Allegiant Travel Company".
  18. ^ "Allegiant Announces Major Service Expansion with 21 New Nonstop Routes, Three New Cities | Allegiant Travel Company".
  19. ^ "Allegiant Announces Major Service Expansion with 34 New Nonstop Routes, Plus Nine Special Limited Routes for Sturgis Rally 2021 | Allegiant Travel Company".
  20. ^ "Allegiant Air". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  21. ^ "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  22. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  23. ^ "Frontier". USA Today.
  24. ^ "Timetable". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  25. ^ "Knoxville, TN: McGhee Tyson (TYS)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  26. ^ "RITA BTS Transtats - TYS". April 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  27. ^ "Knoxville-McGhee Tyson Airport". Aviation Safety Network.

External links[edit]