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State Series: Kentucky and Tennessee

UPS Boeing 747 at Louisville Airport – Photo provided by By Ken H / @chippyho [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Since the creation of the first airport in 1909 by Wilbur Wright, cities in the United States have come together to create one of the most expansive airport systems in the world. Over the next few months, our writers have taken an in-depth look to see what airports each state has to offer, what its history entails, and what changes we can expect in the future that will continue to shape the airline industry.

Known as the “Bluegrass State” and the “Volunteer State”, Kentucky and Tennessee each have unique stories within the history of aviation. Kentucky has seen its airports grow to support the bourbon industry and famous Kentucky Derby, while Tennessee has as history with some hub operations, fueling the economy of agriculture and country music.


Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is is an international airport located in Hebron, Kentucky, that serves the greater Cincinnati area. It is the only airport in Indiana, Kentucky, or Ohio that has nonstop flights to Europe. The airport is considered the busiest airport in Kentucky and the second busiest airport that serves the Ohio area. The airport is the smallest domestic hub for Delta Airlines, and hosts the headquarters for Delta Private Jet. In addition to being a hub for Delta, it is also a hub for DHL Aviation and DHL Express. It is also a focus city for both Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines. The airport is one of the fastest-growing cargo airport in all of North America. CVG offers service to 55 destinations with around 186 daily departures.

The airport currently has one terminal with three concourses (A, B, C,). Concourse A houses all non-Delta airlines. Concourse B is used by Delta and Vacation Express, as well as all international non-precleared arrivals. The US Customs and Border Protection facilities are located in Concourse B.  Delta originally held lease to the land of Concourse C until 2025. However, in early 2016, CVG and Delta terminated the lease. Demolition of the concourse is to take place in early 2017. The airport served roughly 6,300,000 passengers with 133,000 aircraft movements in 2015. The busiest domestic route is to Atlanta, Georgia (Delta and Frontier), while the busiest international route is to Paris, France (Delta). Delta is the leading carrier at the airport, with 55.6% of the share, followed by American Airlines, with with 18.3% of the share.

Louisville International Airport (SDF)

Louisville International Airport is a public and military use public international airport located in Louisville, Kentucky. The IATA code (SDF) is based on its previous name, Standiford Field. The airport does not currently see international passenger flights; however, it is still considered a port of entry as it receives international cargo flights. It is a hub for UPS Airlines and their “Worldport”, seeing over 4.7 billion pounds of cargo yearly, making it the third busiest airport in the US based on cargo traffic and the seventh busiest in the world.

The airport has three runways and two concourses, A and B. SDF is served by American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta Airlines, Delta Connection, OneJet, Southwest, and United Airlines. There was around 3,360,000 passengers and 147,000 aircraft movements in 2015. The busiest domestic route is to Atlanta, served by Delta. Southwest currently has the greatest share of passengers, with around 30%, followed by Delta with 20%.  

Memphis International Airport (MEM)

Memphis International Airport is a civil-military airport located in Memphis, Tennessee. MEM is the FedEx Express global hub. The airport is the busiest airport based on cargo movement in the United States and second in the world, following Hong Kong.

The airport has four runways and three terminals, A, B, and C respectively. Terminal A has 7 gates and is used only by Southwest Airlines. Terminal B has 42 gates and is used by Allegiant Air and Delta. Seasonally, the terminal is used by international arrivals. Terminal C has 18 gates and is used by American, Frontier, GLO Airlines, and United. The airport received around 3,759,000 passengers and 219,000 aircraft operations in 2015. More than 9 billion lbs of cargo was handled in 2015, as well. Atlanta is the airport’s busiest destination, operated by Delta.

Nashville International Airport (BNA)

Nashville International Airport (BNA), is a public and military use airport located in Nashville, Tennessee. The airport is currently a focus city for Southwest. In 2014, the airport ranked 32nd in the busiest airports in the United States. The airport is served by 13 airlines and, before COVID-19 restrictions, offered an average of 440 daily flights to around 55 destinations. 

However, with vaccination programs currently rolling out across the globe, it appears as though both national and international travel are on the horizon — meaning that passengers will soon be taking to the skies in search of rest, relaxation and adventure. As a result, it is fair to presume that Nashville International Airport will once again become a bustling and vibrant space. However, not only will it be the vehicle through which locals set out to explore the world once more- it will also welcome plenty of tourists into the area. While it is likely that there will be a dip in tourism compared to previous years, the figures are only set to rise as everyone works to continue to eradicate COVID-19.

In fact, Nashville has always been a popular tourist destination in its own right – due to the fact that it truly has something for everyone to enjoy within the capital city. In addition to the wealth of fun things to do in Nashville, visitors can also expert to enjoy idyllic weather conditions and delicious food and drink.

The airport has four runways and one terminal, the Robert C. H. Mathews Jr. Terminal. The terminal has four concourses, A, B, C, D. Concourse A is serviced by Air Canada, Frontier, and United. Concourse B is the second largest concourse at the airport, and houses Alaska Airlines, Boutique Air, Contour Airlines, JetBlue, WestJet, and Delta. Concourse C is the largest concourse, mainly utilized by Southwest Airlines. American and American Eagle use Concourse C as well. Concourse D is currently inactive and is used by the Transportation Security Administration. The airport saw 12, 294,000 passengers and around 199,000 aircraft operations in 2015. Atlanta is the busiest destination, operated by Delta. Southwest is the largest carrier at the airport with about 56% of passengers, followed by Delta, with about 11% of passengers.


Ashland Regional Airport (DWU)

Ashland Regional Airport is a public use airport that is located in Worthington, Kentucky, and is owned by the Ashland Regional Airport Board. The airport currently serves charter and private aircraft, and the airport is also used for community events. The airport opened in 1953 as Ashland-Boyd County Airport. The airport, at a time, was used by oil manufacturing company Ashland, inc. 

The airport has one runway (10/28) that is asphalt, 5602 ft long. Back in 2007, the airport, over a one year period, has nearly 4500 aircraft movements.

McMinn County Airport:

McMinn County Airport (MMI) is a public-use airport located in McMinn County, Tennessee. The airport has one runway (2/20) that is asphalt with a length of 6450 ft. The current fixed-based operator at the airport is Athens Air, LLC. The airport is mainly used for business and industrial service, with 75% of the traffic is business related. Many factories in nearby Chattanooga and Knoxville use this airport. The land is also home to Swift Museum, housing multiple Swift aircraft.  

Everett-Stewart Regional Airport

Everett-Stewart Regional Airport (UCY) is a public use airport in Obion County, Tennessee, located near Union City, Tennessee. It is categorized as a general aviation facility.  The airport has one runway (1/19) that is asphalt with a length of 6500 ft. The airport, during World War II, was used as a training facility. After the war, the War Surplus Act gave the airport to Obion County. It was originally named Tom Stewart Airport after Senator Tom Stewart, and later renamed its current name after Congressman Robert Everett. 

Samuel Chen


  • Samuel Chen

    Ever since he made his first trip on a Boeing 747 in 2005, Samuel has been an AvGeek at heart. He is a dedicated United (ex-Continental) loyalist and frequent flier who attempts to live by Continental's slogan, "Work Hard, Fly Right." He has a huge love for the Boeing 777 along with any other Boeing wide body aircraft. Samuel is an avid collector of all types of airplane memorabilia ranging from model airplanes to in-flight magazines. In his free time, Samuel enjoys playing guitar and piano, and he is constantly on various airline websites scanning for any breaking news.

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