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Friday, October 1, 2010

September 2010 in Review

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  • September 5: 1892 East, which calls itself a "New American Restaurant and Tavern," is opening in the old Sazio's spot in Five Points. This was originally rumored to be where Trappeze Pub of Athens, GA would open a Huntsville location.
  • September 7: Ron Sparks unveils his road plan in Huntsville, armed with a list of projects he deems "extremely important," like the Northern Bypass, and pushing back other, "less important" projects like 53 and Winchester. To be fair, Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Bentley's plan isn't any better, as he plans to move forward with unnecessary new interstates such as the infamous "Western Alabama Expressway" through his hometown of Tuscaloosa and a new "East Alabama Corridor." (At least he doesn't mention reviving the Southern Bypass, which Sparks does.) Neither candidate has mentioned trying to obtain federal high-speed rail funding, or amend the state constitution to allow for state funding of public transit.
  • September 13: Local grocery chain Star Market will open its fourth area store in November in the former Southern Family Markets store at Weatherly and Bailey Cove.
  • September 14: Best Buy Mobile, the electronics store's cell phone chain, will open a store in Parkway Place later this year between Express and Victoria's Secret. This is an actual store, not just a vending machine or kiosk.
  • September 15: The construction you see at the old Bruno's on North Parkway is for a haunted attraction, which will open next week.
  • September 15: Huntsville International Airport "pleads" the region to use low-fare carrier AirTran or "lose it," citing low load factors for its non-stop flights to Baltimore and Orlando. Having flown on AirTran to BWI several times since their arrival here, the flights weren't filled to the brim, but the majority (60-70%) of the seats were taken. Out of curiosity, I compared seating charts for upcoming flights to Orlando from Huntsville, Knoxville, and Lexington (the latter two also launched AirTran service within the last year), and they were similarly booked; some of the Huntsville flights were even sold out for Fall Break next week. So I didn't think we were losing AirTran service anytime soon, until...
  • September 27: Southwest is buying AirTran.This could be great news or terrible news for Huntsville International, depending on how you look at it. The merger could give HSV more low-fare flights to "legacy" cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston. However, Southwest, despite having a large market share here already, could take it all away with their BS "too close to Nashville and Birmingham" excuse that has kept them from here thus far (they wouldn't serve four Los Angeles airports if this were actually the case). If Southwest/AirTran does pull out of HSV when the sale is completed, the airport will go back to being the most expensive in the country, as there will be few low-fare carriers left, much less one crazy enough to land at an airport where low-fare carriers go to die. In the meantime, we should pitch HSV as an easily-accessible, stress-free, and expandable airport (something we have over BHM, BNA, and future ATL reliever Chattanooga). How about an ad campaign-- "Want low fares without the drive? Fly AirTran now, get Southwest later." We've been handed a great opportunity to take our airport to the next level. Don't screw this up, Huntsville. 


Rail Claimore said...

I think WN will cut BWI and MCO service, but will start up service to MDW, and maybe DAL (once the Wright Amendment expires), and maybe HOU. The first two are pretty large markets with a lot of traffic from HSV.

James said...

@Rail: I did some research on the Wright Amendment, and thanks to Senator Shelby, Alabama is exempt from it (note that Southwest has a BHM-DAL nonstop).

It would be sad to see the BWI nonstop go. I hope that traffic picks up after Delta ends their flights to Reagan National next month.