Low-cost airline finally coming

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Since AirTran (formerly ValuJet) pulled out of the Knoxville market in 2000, area residents and businesses have been driving to either Nashville or Atlanta in order to afford air travel. Local businesses and politicians have teamed up in an effort to lure a low-cost airline to Knoxville.

Although seemingly fruitless at times, the efforts have actually turned fruitful. In a surprise move last night, TransAppalachian Airlines (TAA) announced they will be expanding into the Knoxville market.

A TransAppalachian airplane on the tarmac.

TAA has been a leader in low-cost air travel for at least six months, flying out of such cities as Kingsport, Boone, Soddy-Daisy, and a mud strip somewhere in south-eastern Kentucky, probably near Middlesboro. Coinciding with their move into Knoxville, they plan to add routes to Charlotte and Spartanburg.

Don Jett, the CEO of TAA, purchased surplus jets from the army, Boeing, and an airplane graveyard featured in the ’80s film My Science Project. “We fixed them up, greased their axles, and ran some Engine Restore through a tank of gas,” he explained. “Sure they’re safe planes!”

The airline plans to offer value-added services such as free earplugs (one set per passenger) and a service to carry you from your car to check-in. In-flight entertainment will include parachute usage demonstrations, tours of the lavatory and cargo holds, and a current blood alcohol content indicator for the pilots.

A TransAppalachian alpaca stands ready
to carry passengers from the parking lot.

Fares will range from $50 to $125 one-way, depending on the destination. Anyone who books a return flight will be given a 50% discount on the return fare. As soon as the TAA technology director figures out Microsoft Front Page, they will have a website. The company will then accept emailed reservations. Service should begin toward the end of June.

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