Experts: Business Travel Skews Airfare Costs in Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville International Airport has earned the title as the most expensive airport in the nation.  It's an ongoing headache for the leaders in an otherwise thriving city.

People are certainly flying out of Huntsville. However, not many are traveling for leisure.  Most travelers are taking business trips.

All of those last-minute bookings and cancellations have caused people who want to take a simple weekend trip to weigh whether or not they can afford that $600 plane ticket.

"We recognize right now that one of our weaknesses right is a low-cost airfare carrier," said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

Since AirTran left the market, there have been fewer flight options for leisure travelers who are now opting to drive hours away for a cheaper ticket.

But Mayor Tommy Battle believes tourism doesn't have to suffer because of high prices.

City leaders hope to raise the hotel tax, which might not sound like it would help tourism. However, the extra $800,000 a year the tax is expected to rake in would go toward recruiting conventions to local venues.

"We compare our prices to those across the southeast and especially with the amount of taxes per room, we're very much in line with what everybody else is," said Mayor Battle.

The city also hopes to woo a new low-cost airfare provider.

"A lot of times we talked to AirTran for eight years before they located here in Huntsville. Same thing is happening now. We're talking to some discount airfare lines," said Battle.

In the meantime, Mayor Battle suggests instead of driving to Birmingham or Nashville, take the time to plan.

"If you are careful and you plan your trip a couple weeks out and shop the fares, you can come out with a very affordable travel budget," Mayor Battle suggested.

WHNT News 19 checked some discount airfare websites today.  We found that if you schedule a trip for two months from now, rather than a couple of weeks, you really can save yourself hundreds of dollars.