Air traffic taking off at BHM

Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 5:48 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Air traffic at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International increased by 4% in 2019.

Local experts say we’re not growing as fast as other southern cities, but our growth is a sign of a very good economy and might even lead to lower airfare down the road.

Birmingham airport has now had two good years in a row.

“They grew 10% in 2018. And sometimes when you have a big year like that, it’s hard to grow on top of that,” says Ty West with the Birmingham Business Journal.

But BHM did just that. And West says growth in air travel is one of those economic indicators experts look at when assessing the health of the economy.

“When the economy is doing well, businesses are more willing to approve travel and they’re more willing to consider travel for things,” West said.

That turns into tourism dollars for the Magic City.

“It’s good for lodging taxes but it’s also just good for our profile as a community. I think some of the high-profile things that have happened over the past few years, whether it’s the rebirth of downtown, all these travel features that have been written in publications around the globe about Birmingham, all those things feed into that,” West said.

Last year growth seemed improbable, with Via and Frontier airlines leaving BHM and Southwest reducing the number of flights due to the grounding of the Max aircraft. West hopes this growth will lead to more services.

“A lot of executives are pushing to get more non-stop destinations, more airlines, and more flights out of Birmingham. They believe that would help the economy,” he said.

More airlines would mean more competition which could possibly lead to lower airfare, but experts warn there are many other factors that go into lowering costs.

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