Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce President Bill Kilbride recently sent a letter to members asking them to support Chattanooga’s relatively new direct flight to New York City.

Record enplanements

The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport broke its record with the number of passenger boardings in 2016.

There were419,059 enplanements last year, which represents a 7 percent increase over 2015.

It’s the first time in history that boardings have surpassed400,000 in a year.

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TheChattanooga Metropolitan Airportannounced in April thatUnited Airlineswould provide new nonstop service from Chattanooga to New York and Chicago. The inauguralflight happened in September.

The flight was something many area businesspeople wanted, but when it was announced, officials said that it needed to be used or it wouldn’t make sense for the airline to keep it.

In his letter toabout 240 members and friends of the chamber, Kilbride said that the new flights to Chicago are exceeding expectations, but the flight to Newark Liberty International Airport could be doing better. He asked for support in taking advantage of the nonstop flight to the “capital of the world.”

“Flights to the NYC area are doing well but need growth-growth that depends on your support,” he said in the letter. “As a corporate traveler and business leader, your role in the continued success of Chattanooga’s direct flight to Newark is irreplaceable.”

Airport PresidentTerry Hart has also reached out to chamber heads in 16 neighboring counties-members of the Thrive 2055 initiative-to ask them to spread the word about the flight to beef up support.

Hart asked those chamber presidents if they would send a letter to their business and community leaders asking for them to support not only the United flights but all flights leaving Chattanooga.

Hart said in a prepared statement:

We are extremely appreciative that the Chattanooga Chamber has helped to remind our business and civic leaders how important it is to support United Airlines’ service to NYC for critical economic development and regional growth.We have also asked our Thrive 55 partner chambers in the 16-county tri-state region to support this effort as well as we continuously work to make our airport the first choice for business and leisure travelers. With the success of this nonstop service, we believe this is only the beginning of our partnership with United Airlines.