January 13, 2015: After a nine-month, $16.579 million improvement project, Huntsville International Airport (HSV) has reopened its east runway along with adjacent taxiways. The project was done in order to meet the requirements set for Panalpina's 747-8 freighters, which are classified as a Group VI aircraft. This project was made possible when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded $15,750,741 in discretionary funds to HSV for improvements to its east runway in September 2013. This is the largest grant HSV has ever received.
"This grant allowed us to continue the quest to improve our infrastructure for Group VI and handle the large volume of cargo we see at the airport," said Mark McDaniel, Huntsville Madison County Airport Authority Chairman of the Board. "We have a 10-year plan for total investments of $85 million to our runways and taxiways, because it is crucial for our region's economy and to stay competitive in the global marketplace."
Reed Contracting was the prime contractor on the east runway expansion. Total capital improvements on the east airfield included: expanding paved shoulders, widening full-strength pavement and upgrading to eco-friendly LED lighting and signage. In July of 2013 the airport reopened its west runway after a year-long, $30-million construction project. At completion of this project, both runways at Huntsville International Airport are now capable of handling Group VI 747-8 aircraft, a distinction shared with cities like Miami, New York, L.A., and Chicago.
"A major benefit of Panalpina's own controlled network is that it uses less congested airports, such as Huntsville, to offer faster turnaround on the ground, and to reduce the risk of delays, " said Matthew Frey, global head of Panalpina's own controlled air freight network. "Now that we can also use the second runway in Huntsville, distance and time to our airside facility is reduced even further."
Due to the partnership with Panalpina, Huntsville International Airport is currently No. 14 among U.S. international air cargo airports.