By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport will receive nearly $6.5 million in federal funding to make improvements to the safety of the airport’s aprons and taxiways.
The $6,481,875 is part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Infrastructure Grant (AIG) program.
Ronald Mathieu, CEO of the airport, said the funding will “help us maintain and rehab our aeronautical services to ensure that every aspect of the airport is operated and maintained in a way intended to ensure the safety of all of our passengers and all aircraft operations on the airfield.”
He continued, “You’ll see it’s almost an entire area of taxiway that’s [restored] …without these funds, we couldn’t do this as one project, we’d have to be able to squeeze this in wherever we could, taking all of the other projects that we have to do into consideration.”
This project restores 15,540 square yards of the existing overflow apron pavement and 5,200 feet of taxiways to maintain the structural integrity of the pavement and to minimize foreign object debris.
“We have a pavement management system where we look at the life expectancy and all of our aeronautical services,” the CEO said, “And before we get to the point, where major rehab may be necessary, we’ve identified it, we’ve designed it, how to rehab it and reinforce it, and we’re able to identify funds through the FAA to go forward and do that work.”
Darlene Wilson, chair of the Birmingham Airport Authority, said, “We are very committed to pursuing projects that extend the life of paved surfaces and help ensure a safe operating environment for the airlines, the military, and our general aviation customers … We appreciate the support we get from Congresswoman Terri Sewell and from the entire Alabama delegation in Washington.”
Sewell said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is another example of “how the Infrastructure Law is delivering for our communities here in Alabama and a testament to what we can achieve when we put people over politics.”
So far, $2.5 billion in transportation funding from the Infrastructure Law has been announced for Alabama including $39.5 million for Alabama’s airports.
Find a comprehensive breakdown of funding for Alabama from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to date here.
In another matter, the airport announced the number of passengers boarding flights in February at BHM increased by 13 percent over February 2022. That followed another large increase in January, when traffic was up 17 percent over the same period in 2022.
“This trend is very encouraging as we engage in ongoing talks with the airlines,” said Wilson. “We have worked diligently to show the airlines that this region needs additional flights to accommodate growing demand. Nothing proves that point more than the increases in traffic we’ve seen so far this year.”
The airlines that serve BHM are responding to the uptick in traffic in the Birmingham market by adding more flights to their schedules. These service additions will give travelers more non-stop choices and better connectivity when they fly.
Delta Airlines is adding:
- Two more daily non-stop flights to New York’s La Guardia Airport between now and June
- A second daily non-stop to Detroit, also in June
- A ninth daily flight to Atlanta, starting in June
Southwest Airlines is adding:
- Non-stop service to Las Vegas on Sundays starting in July (to compliment the current Saturday service)
- Daily non-stops to Las Vegas beginning in October
- A second daily non-stop to Orlando and a third on Saturdays, also in October
American Airlines will begin their first ever non-stop to LaGuardia in May.
“The more we use the service provided by the airlines, the better our chances of getting more in the future,” said Wilson. “The airlines that serve BHM are showing a tremendous amount of confidence in this market and we are just getting started.”
Updated at 5:37 p.m. on 4/3/2023 to correct spelling of name.