Passenger traffic declined again last month at the Huntsville International Airport, officials reported Tuesday morning during the monthly Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority meeting.
In October, passenger traffic dropped 8.5 percent compared to the same time last year, resulting in a year-to-date decrease of 14.1 percent below 2012. Fiscal 2014 passenger totals for the first four months are 7.8 percent below projections.
Huntsville International Airport Executive Director Rick Tucker said the 16-day government shutdown that left thousands of defense workers idled in Huntsville had an impact on the airport in October.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that the Huntsville community is really tied to the federal government in so many ways economically,” he said. “Some reports are that it’s 50 percent of our economy. If the government is shut down … if those government employees and contractors are not flying, then that’s going to have a significant impact on our operations here, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Tucker said sequestration has also been a factor in the recent slowdown in airport traffic, but “with the shutdown, it was a significant amount.”
Rail cargo traffic dipped 11.5 percent last month, causing 2013 year-to-date totals to increase 0.5 percent above 2012. Unlike passenger traffic totals, rail cargo traffic for the first four months of fiscal 2014 is 3.3 percent above projections.
In September, air cargo landing weights decreased 5.4 percent year over year, while air cargo freight weights for the same period were 2.3 percent below 2012 figures.
The airport’s peak parking day average was 1,669 vehicles in October, a drop from 2,188 in 2012, resulting in a 23.71 percent decrease for the month and a 17.05 percent decline year to date.
Jetplex Industrial Park
Brooks Kracke, director of the Jetplex Industrial Park, said he recently met with an unnamed aviation equipment company that is considering Huntsville for a production facility. The company, which has a bid on a Department of Defense contract, would need to be in operation quickly if they win the contract, Kracke said.
“They will also need to determine if they assemble the product themselves or enter into a joint venture with a local established company,” he said. “Our original contact with this company was earlier this year at the Heli-Expo.”
Jetplex officials continue to coordinate site visits at and provide details on the Chrysler building. Kracke also said a meeting with corporate officials from an existing industry was held to promote the city as a location for possible growth.
During the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C., Jetplex leaders met with an existing tenant, which was not revealed due to confidentiality reasons, that is positioned for future expansion in Huntsville.
“They are positioning themselves for more aviation contracts and will need additional space with runway access,” Kracke said. “They will have a follow-up meeting in the near future to discuss the project in more detail.”
Airport improvement funds
The airport authority board also approved a resolution to apply for state matching funds for an airport improvement project during fiscal 2014.