Global economy, airport expansion will land Nashville more international flights

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Nashville International Airport secured its first direct flight to Europe last year.

A massive expansion project, and an economy that’s going global, will soon mean more international travel taking off from BNA. It’s history with every new approach, and with each landing, Nashville arrives closer to the future.

Each day the airport welcomes people from around the world. BNA saw a record 17 million passengers from June of 2018 to July 2019.

The first to fly here direct from Europe took a British Airways flight out of London, in May of 2018.

British Airways generic
(Photo: WKRN)

MORE: Behind the Scenes at Nashville International Airport

“It was fabulous because going through New York or Atlanta or Chicago, or all those, is a nightmare,” said London resident, Joe Brown.

There were cheeky travelers, just happy to be here, since this non-stop from England hadn’t happened in 25 years. Ever since, the airline has flown once a day to the United Kingdom.

“The international market is and has been a growth area for BNA,” says Tom Jurkovich.

Jurkovich, BNA’s VP of Communications and Public Affairs, says it took just the right mix of a booming economy, population growth and airport expansion, to attract the airline to Nashville.

That same recipe will likely bring more overseas, direct routes.

“Whether it’s the health care industry, manufacturing, hospitality or the music industry, there’s a very serious business component,” said Jurkovich.

Industry leads the way in luring these flights. Think Japanese auto giants Nissan and Bridgestone, major players making a non-stop to Asia viable. It’s where the demand begins, and the possibilities take off.

“It’s fundamentally a business decision for the airline,” says Jurkovich. “They have a limited number of planes, pilots, they look to where they can get a return on investments, when a demand hits a certain point. That’s when that flight will happen,” added Jurkovich.

In 10 years, the airport will be transformed, and a big part of that will be international travel. Airport expansion paves the way for added flights. You may not recognize the airport if you haven’t flown recently. They’re building a new concourse, ticketing wings, a new lobby, a hotel and offices.

“In 10 years we’ll have a substantial increase in international travel, to and from Nashville, we’ll have a brand new airport,” said Jurkovich.

The vision is $1.3 billion of expansion, taking six years. The ability to accommodate international travel for years to come.

“We’ll have a state-of-the-art facility that will be able to handle some 800 passengers an hour when it’s completed,” said Jurkovich.

The gateway to growth in Music City is Nashville International. It connects middle Tennessee to the world.

Today it’s Nashville to London, tomorrow, Tokyo, Paris or Beijing.

“It’s going to be a special place and special time.”

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