Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Huntsville Airport Master Plan Presentation Meeting. I learned some interesting facts about our airport and want to share a couple of details.
First, Huntsville International Airport is the 17th largest cargo airport in the country. When you think about market size, Huntsville is really competing with much larger cities in terms of air cargo. The majority of revenue is generated from cargo not passenger transportation. The “international” designation for the airport relates to the cargo side of the air transportation business of the airport.
Second, for most residents the cost of airfare is a major concern when flying in and out of Huntsville International Airport. And while airfare cost is not a primary focus of the master plan, airport officials are aware that airfare cost is a concern and are constantly working to attract cheaper carriers. Consolidation of air carriers and government regulations were cited as two reasons that negatively impact the airport’s ability to be more proactive in recruiting more carriers to the airport. Another note, given the amount of business travel our airport handles, the airline operators know they can rely on last minute ticket sales from business travelers to fill seats. They often hold seat availability for that purpose. Last minute tickets usually go for much higher rates than tickets purchased 90, 60 or even 30 days in advance. It was also stated that there are over 400 airports in the country with passengers fares. Of which, Huntsville is rated 74th in ticket cost. Now personally I’ve seen some reports that conflict with that finding having Huntsville among the highest in ticket fares. But when it comes to numbers, we know it’s all about relativity and context.
I hope this insight is helpful. I had a great time at the meeting and had the opportunity to meet and engage with several community leaders. Good things are happening in Huntsville. Greater things are on the horizon!