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Huntsville International Airport seeks input as master plan update continues

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville International Airport leaders are seeking your input as they, along with consultants, continue developing the master plan update. They hosted a meeting Wednesday to discuss that master plan.

The airport's current master plan, approved in 2010, needs some changes.

"It's because there have been changes in the federal guidelines and also changes in the industry since the last plan was completed," said Philip Jufko, Michael Baker International's Director of Aviation Planning.

About the process

Jufko is one of the Michael Baker team doing research to find the airport's needs for the future. Here is a link to their work as they provide updates. They are evaluating the current status and what the airport may need through 2036.

The airport is 7,000 acres, carrying passengers around the country. Through the Jetplex and Intermodal Center, the impact goes global. The executive director says the airport is the 17th largest international cargo facility in the country. It makes sense there would need to be a plan for growth that is forecast within the next few decades.

"We have about a year left in the process until we are finally complete," he said.

"Some of the initial needs we have identified here at the airport," he said, "are what tweaks and changes we need to make to taxiway systems to make sure we have safe movement of aircraft. If we get into the terminal now I'm looking at, do we have enough parking in the future? Enough short-term? Long-term? For employees? Do the rental cars or tenants have enough space?"

He said the other needs still need to be determined.

Your Input

As the process continues, the firm is asking for public input. Any and all comments will be accepted, even if they don't relate to the master plan. You can use this link to submit comments if you didn't attend this first meeting.

Airport leaders know there will be some expansion needed. It could include parking space, lobby space, or queueing space. They believe the gates may meet the needs through 2036, along with the baggage unloading area.

As they work to address the needs they discover, planners want public input to take into account.

"If we get it now where we are early in the study, now we can take into consideration as we are considering alternatives, what was important to the people," said Jufko.

What Do You Think?

We talked to some airport users who were concerned about cost.

"Mainly, I want to see how this airport will serve me better as a professional, a business man who is flying a lot," said Gadi Shapira of Huntsville. "I find myself flying out, not from Huntsville, but from Nashville because of the very high prices that we see here."

"Ticket prices are so high that most people don't have an opportunity [to fly,]" said Jill Stallcup of Madison. She added that she thought more would purchase HSV tickets "if we could find a way to encourage people by providing services, maybe a play area for kids in the waiting area, or maybe some comfort dogs to help people who have anxiety flying, those kind of things that can make us unique."

Airport leaders maintain the airlines, not the airports, are responsible for fares.

But people had other suggestions to take the airport to new heights.

"I would like to see more international flights," said Shapira. "Huntsville is very industrial. There are a lot of people who come from all over, and I think that having international flights coming in like the cargo flights would definitely influence the city's business and growth."

Stallcup and her husband live in Madison and they see airplanes heading to HSV all the time. "I would like to see us have a Western entrance to the airport off County Line Road," she suggested.

Stallcup said she will continue to follow master plan developments as it progresses.

"I am cautiously optimistic and hope things will move forward in the future not just for the business aspect, but for the public flying in and out of here."

The next meeting will be on November 14, 2017.