HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - This is the most expensive ride WHNT News 19 reporter Matt Kroschel has ever caught, inside the cockpit of a brand new Boeing 747-8 cargo plane, which now calls Huntsville International Airport a home.
Cargo shipping giant Panalpina showed off its newer, bigger and greener cargo plane Tuesday. The plane is one of two brand new planes that are leased by the shipping company and operated by Atlas Air. The aircraft, which took its debut flight in early summer from Everett, Wash. to Hong Kong, can only land at a handful of airports in the U.S.
The company has been operating out of the North Alabama since 1990. Their logistics and freight operations are responsible for moving everything from military equipment to health care products across the globe. The new planes give the company the ability to control temperature and track conditions throughout the entire shipping process.
At the same time as Panalpina has expanded their operations, the airport underwent millions of dollars worth of upgrades to support the massive planes. Right now one runway is being widened to make it safer for the 747-8's to fly in and out of Huntsville.
Huntsville is now one of the 14 busiest international cargo hubs in the country. Officials with Panalpina say being able to fly in and out of a smaller airport takes time off of delivery time and makes loading and unloading their planes much faster.