Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Fight To Overcome Obstacles

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MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (whnt) - The brutal winter weather shut down many airports in the south. The Northwest Alabama Regional Airport didn't shut down, but many flights were canceled because all flights leaving from the airport had to go to Atlanta.

Steve Holt is the president of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. He said the airport has gone through a number of challenges in the past couple of months.

"The Shoals and Dothan are the only two small metro markets, in Alabama, that have commercial air service and I think that’s very important to the growth and the future of this community to have the access to air service, it's another one of the tools to our tool kit," said Holt.

The airport has to overcome a number of obstacles. It is trying to maintain their  Essential Air Service contract and it is also working with a limited number of pilots.
"The challenge I think that they're facing, that all the regional carriers are facing now, is the change in pilot hours required. It used to be to either 250 to 500 experience to now it's like 1,500 hours," said Holt.

Holt is working along aside a number of community leaders and airport management to overcome these obstacles.
"I hope that 2014 will be a good year for the airport and I know Silver Airways is trying to increase the number of pilots as are all the other regional carriers around the country right now," said Holt.