Huntsville International Airport is a commercial airport located in North Alabama. According to US Military (2013), it is considered the largest airport in the region and serves two main states, namely Alabama and Tennessee. It is estimated that the airport provides services to 1.2 million people per year. The North Alabama airport is a part of the Port of Huntsville, operated by the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority. The airport first came into operation in 1967 and can be accessed through use of buses, car rentals, and shuttles. Further, Huntsville International Airport has a large hotel called the Sheraton Four Points on its territory, which makes passengers’ lives easier as it provides them with sufficient resting time before their flights. The hotel has a total of 146 rooms and 10meeting rooms, which is convenient for businesses as it allows businesspersons to hold meetings within the airport. The airport also has another unique facility, which is an 18-hole par 72 landing golf course. The golf course which is usually opened all year round provides passengers with leisure, especially when their flights are hours away. This paper discusses Huntsville International Airport focusing on all angles of its operations in a bid to understand how it has managed to stay ahead of its competitors.
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Services Offered by Huntsville International Airport
The airport provides nonstop service to its passengers for nine destinations, including Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Charlotte, and Washington DC (US Military, 2013). It is important to note that in Washington DC, it has nonstop service to two airports, mainly Dulles and National. The provision of services is accomplished through the airport’s carriers. Currently, the airport has four main carriers. The first carrier is American Airlines, which destination is Dallas/Fort Worth. The airport’s second carrier is Delta Airlines, which mainly flies to Atlanta and seasonally flies to Detroit. The third carrier is United Airlines. The airport’s final carrier is US Airways. It is imperative to highlight that these four air carriers are a representatin of three international airline alliances. Whenever necessary, the regional affiliates of these carriers provide some flights through several code sharing agreements.
The airport also provides cargo transportation, which has been successful due to the airport’s two parallel runways (Hamilton, 2009). The runway, which is considered the second largest in the Southeast US, has the capability of handling Group IV aircrafts. Thus, a Boeing 747-8 international cargo can land safely at the airport. The International Intermodal Center (IIC) located at the airport is a central cargo hub, incorporating air, rail, and highway transportation of cargo. The air cargo at IIC meets diverse needs of businesses in the Tennessee valley. Hamilton (2009) further points out that the airport has 300000 square feet airside cargo tenant warehouse facilities made up of 5,250 square feet of cold storage and 11,000 square feet of temperature control storage. The heart of the airport’s cargo operations is Panalpina, which operates its US airfreight network through the airport. It has made Huntsville International Airport the only airport in the state, which has a nonstop international air cargo.
As much as it is best known as a commercial airport, Huntsville International Airport also provides private flight support. US Military (2013) opines that through signature flight support, the airport provides fixed base operations for private planes and air taxi. It also provides support for other private flight services such as charter, sales, rentals, and training.
Marketing Strategies Developed by Huntsville International Airport
The airport has developed a number of marketing leading strategies that have given it a competitive advantage and enabled it to emerge as a market leader in air travel. In the first place, the airport has received much praise for its excellent customer service and convenience. Secondly, according to Huntsville International Airport (2015), the airport is also known to keep up with the latest technological trends. For this reason, it utilizes state-of-the-art technology in its operations. Furthher, the fact that the airport is easy to navigate through has attracted various local businesses in North Alabama to use its services, which has increased the airport’s revenue by a large margin. Fourthly, Huntsville International Airport also boasts of having made improvements in various areas of its facilities, which has further given it a competitive advantage. Some of these areas where improvements have been made include its security check in, baggage claim area, parking deck, and public waiting area. The airport has spent approximately $92 million, a figure that illustrates the airport’s commitment to providing excellent service to its customers (Huntsville International Airport, 2015). Finally, Huntsville International Airport also participates in corporate social responsibility. For instance, the airport has made it possible for children aged 12 and below to enter into UAH hockey games free of charge for season 2015-16 (Huntsville International Airport, 2015). Such an act helps to improve public image and makes it a preferred airport for many. All these strategies have enabled the organization to stay ahead of its competitors.
Setbacks Faced by the Airport
It has not been all smooth running of the North Alabama airport. In particular, the airport has suffered a number of setbacks. One such setback is the fatal plane crash that took place in 2014 and resulted in three people losing their lives. According to Galloway (2014), the plane had been a non-commercial aircraft occupied by three people who were all pilots. The three had been attempting to practice two instrument landing approaches when the unfortunate incident occurred. The crash happened when the plane was trying to depart but instead caught fire and crashed during takeoff. Although the airport was not directly responsible for the crash, the latter still adversely affected the airport. For instance, it was closed to pave the way for investigation. As a result, flights out and into the airport were cancelled. The incident also tainted the airport’s image because of flights canceled. Another setback the airport has experienced is cancellation and delay of flights due to poor weather.