The Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority voted Monday morning to approve a $6 million incentive package aimed at getting more airlines to set up in Huntsville – or increase options for customers.
Specifically, airport managers want to reduce the number of people who have to drive to places like Birmingham or Nashville to find affordable flights to and from cities they are interested in traveling to.
The money for the incentive package was freed up with some budget reworks for the 2014 Fiscal Year starting in July. To get access to the incentives, airlines will have strike a deal with the airport showing how they plan to reduce “drive traffic.” Those plans could include more routes or reduced prices.
Federal regulation bars the airport from directly negotiating with airlines on ticket prices, so those behind the idea are hopeful it will succeed. Previous attempts at courting low-cost carriers to stay in Huntsville haven’t panned out.
“This is just another attempt,” explained Rick Tucker, HMCAA Executive Director, “We’re doing, again, everything that we can possibly think of.”
The airport has put out the call to airlines to let them know about the incentives package – featuring reduced operating costs and a potential share in revenue from concessions. Now it’s a wait and see game to see who might be interested.
Huntsville International Airport was recently listed once again as America’s most expensive place to fly out from.
The latest report from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows an average round-trip from the Rocket City costs $544.
At this point it is unclear whether the incentives will go toward bringing in a new low-cost carrier, lowering existing carrier fares or both.
We’ll have an update on WHNT News 19 at Noon.