Frequent flyers know TYS is the three-letter designation for McGhee Tyson Airport. If air transportation authorities ever decide to add a fourth letter to the abbreviation for Knoxville’s airport in Blount County, they might just call it BUSY.

In July, for the third consecutive month, McGhee Tyson blew past the airport’s all-time monthly passenger count record. The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority provided the numbers.

A total of 259,119 airline fliers traveled via TYS in July, topping the the previous passenger activity record set in June when 250,409 seats were filled.

Using current census estimates, that means every Blount County resident would have to take two flights during the month for the airport to match those passenger counts.

This year’s July count topped July 2018 by 22.1%. That continues a string that might be the most impressive stat of all: Airline year-over-year passenger traffic has grown for 39 straight months at TYS.

“Over the past 39 months, McGhee Tyson Airport has seen amazing growth in both the number of passengers who fly through the airport and in the number of daily flights offered,” MKAA President Patrick Wilson said Friday. The numbers continue to add up. TYS handled 10,631 flight operations during July. That brings the number of passengers served during the first seven months of 2019 to a total of 1,456,385 on more than 71,000 flights.

By census-based tabulations, that means the equivalent populations of cities like Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego and Dallas — the sixth through ninth most populous in the U.S. — have flown through TYS in 2019 so far.

Needless to say, 2019 is on track to become McGhee Tyson’s busiest year ever, besting the current passenger record of 2,221,137, a record that was set just last year. Patrick attributes that to a combination of factors.

“Due to the strong support of the community and the airlines that serve our market, passengers now have more options and flight-schedule flexibility than ever before,” he said.

Flexibility also is recommended for passengers who must deal with the rising tide of business and leisure travelers ticketed through TYS.

Becky Huckaby, MKAA vice president of public relations, advises passengers who depart from McGhee Tyson to avoid pre-flight stress by keeping close track of the time.

“As more people travel, lines at the airport are also growing during peak times of the day. We are asking passengers to arrive at least two hours before their scheduled departure times,” Huckaby said.

Bob has served in a variety of roles since joining The Daily Times in the 90s. He currently is editor of the business section. When someone gets promoted, retires or gets hired at a new job in Blount County, he's the man to email.

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