Huntsville International Airport to Receive Funds from CARES Act

Huntsville International Airport is among the entities to receive aid in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last week.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provides financial assistance to the air travel industry to help overcome the staggering impacts of COVID-19. The legislation provides some $10 billion to the industry, including airports across the nation.

Commercial  airports have reported 50 to 85 percent revenue loss since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Huntsville International is among the hardest hit, according to the Aviation Council of Alabama.

“Huntsville International Airport projects that we will lose 75 percent of revenue for the next three months or a total of $7 million to $10 million,” said Rick Tucker, HSV CEO. “Our airport is operating in mission critical mode and without emergency assistance the outlook for us seems grim.”

Decatur’s Pryor Field Airport Authority is reporting a drastic decrease in business traffic as well.

“Tenants are not flying very much and none of the airport’s regular business travelers have utilized the facility in the last week,” said Airport Manager Adam Foutz.

Tucker said airports are economic drivers that provide vital transportation infrastructure to give communities access to business opportunities across the nation and the world.

“This is why we are tremendously grateful that the federal government has worked so hard to support the airline and airport workforce during these unprecedented times,” Tucker said. “We are pleased to see that after a week of negotiations, lawmakers, staff and the administration worked tirelessly to find an agreeable way to infuse needed funds into our organizations. These funds will protect our workforce so that we can continue providing passengers with an economic and cultural lifeline via the air transportation network.

“Huntsville International Airport will now do our part to continue safely operating and providing transportation services that will move our region past this pandemic and into the future.”

Tucker also thanked U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby, R, and Doug Jones, D, and U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks, R, and Robert Aderholt, R, for their work on the legislation.

New State Regulations Limit Gatherings, Ban Dining-in

The Public Health Officer for the State of Alabama released a new list of stringent containment policies for communities to follow to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include full school closures, senior center closures, pre-school and child care closures, nursing home restrictions, delayed elective-medical procedures, limited gatherings of no more than 25 persons, bar closures, and no on-premise consumption of food and beverages in restaurants.

Mayor Tommy Battle said the City of Huntsville will immediately follow these policies in the best interest of public health.

“This is a challenging time for our communities. I remain grateful for the way our residents and businesses have been working together to adhere to the public health guidelines and support each other in this time of need.

To our business community, as a former restaurateur, my heart goes out to you, and to all of our companies and residents who lives have been disrupted by this virus.  The Alabama Health Department has determined these precautions are necessary and we will follow their guidance.”

Battle said Huntsville residents should remain calm but must take coronavirus seriously.

“We’re a smart community, and we’ll be smart about stopping this virus,” he said. “Let’s continue to fully follow health recommendations for social distancing, to remain six feet apart, and wash hands regularly.”

Convention & Visitors Bureau Cancels Guided Walking Tours in April

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health threat, the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has announced that the guided, historic walking tours, originally scheduled for each Saturday in April through the Twickenham and Downtown Madison historic districts, have been cancelled.

The free walking tours are part of a statewide initiative by the Alabama Tourism Department to foster the exploration of Alabama’s history and culture, especially in downtown areas.

Details will be announced for the fall walking tours, which take place in October and explore the historic Five Points and Old Town districts.

Visitors are encouraged to reference the COVID-19 travel resource page on huntsville.org for updates on attraction closures, event cancellations and delays, travel advisories, and more.

Mayor Vetoes Lodging Tax

Mayor Tommy Battle informed City Council this morning that he vetoed the 1 percent lodging tax the  Council approved 3-2 Thursday night to fund the city’s planned amphitheater at MidCity District.

In a message to Council, Mayor Battle outlined his reasons as follows:

  1. The City of Huntsville has a solid financial model to pay for the amphitheater as presented when the architectural contract was approved.
  2. This lodging tax increase puts the City of Huntsville at a disadvantage in competing for travel, tourism and conventions.
  3. The tax is not needed – we have a balanced budget.
  4. Hitting the hotel/motel industry with an additional tax amid the COVID-19 virus exacerbates the financial burden on the hospitality Industry, a critical sector of our economy.
  5. There is no plan for additional funding. All projects in the Capital Improvements Plan have been identified and budgeted.

“We all have the same desire — to do what is best for our community,” said Battle. “Passing a tax just to have future dollars to spend without designation is not right. The people who earn the tax dollars that are paid to the City of Huntsville work very hard, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

“They trust us to spend their resources conservatively.”

The mayor expressed his gratitude to Council for their work and concluded his message by saying, “We all have the same goals, just different ways of achieving them.”

J. Alexander’s Restaurant Coming to Town Madison

 

J. Alexander’s has been announced as the first restaurant for Town Madison.

Mark A. Parkey, President and Chief Executive Officer of J. Alexander’s Holdings, said the new J. Alexander’s restaurant will be on a 2.8-acre site at the entrance to Town Madison on Town Madison Boulevard.

Town Madison is a 560-acres mixed-use development focused on residential, office, retail and entertainment.  The Breland Co., one of the largest commercial and residential developers in the Mid-South, is the developer and Minneapolis-based Shea Design is the architect of the restaurant.

Parkey said plans for the new restaurant will include approximately 7,350 square feet with seating for more than 200 guests.  Approximately 100 full- and part-time professionals are expected to be employed.

“We are extremely pleased to announce plans for our newest J. Alexander’s restaurant,” Parkey said.  “The signing of this lease follows extensive research to identify the most desirable site in this premier community.  Town Madison boasts a superb business climate and quality of life.

“Over the years, we have earned a loyal following of guests from the greater Madison County region at our J. Alexander’s restaurant in Franklin, Tenn., and our Redland’s Grill in Hoover.  As such, we are excited with the opportunity to be in Madison and bring discerning guests the finest in classic American cuisine created by culinary professionals and a concept that spans nearly 30 years.”

Parkey said construction is expected to begin this spring with an opening scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.

Known for its wood-fired cuisine, the J. Alexander’s menu will feature a wide selection of American classics – hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, prime rib of beef roasted on the bone, and premium sandwiches, along with a large assortment of interesting salads and homemade desserts.  J. Alexander’s restaurants also offer an outstanding selection of award-winning wines by the glass and bottle.

The Nashville-based company operates 47 restaurants in 16 states.
 

HSV CEO Cites ‘Team Effort,’ ‘Community Support’ for No. 1 Status

Balloons dropped over the ticket counters at Huntsville International Airport after USA Today announced HSV was named the No. 1 Small Airport in the U.S.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong joined Rick Tucker, airport CEO, for a public celebration, complete with sparkling champagne, party hats and horns.

USA Today’s 10Best.com announced in December that HSV was among the final 10 to be nominated. The airport began an online voting effort asking visitors to vote often and share the link.

Tucker directed his thanks to the community since it was their votes that clearly put HSV over the top.

“Congratulations for making Huntsville International Airport the number one small airport in the U.S.,” Tucker said to thunderous applause. “We are ecstatic that HSV has been chosen by voters as North America’s best small airport for USA Today‘s 10 Best Readers’ Choice awards.

Rick Tucker, CEO of Huntsville International Airport: “We are so grateful to the community for supporting HSV by voting.” (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

This was definitely a team effort and we worked each and every day to provide excellent service to passengers, but we also work to represent this region well so that a visitor’s experience will reflect positively on the state of Alabama as whole.

“We are so grateful to our community for supporting HSV by voting. We share this honor with them and will continue to work hard to provide North Alabama and Southern Tennessee residents with even more great options at their local airport.”

According to Jana Kuner, public relations manager for the airport, celebratory parties are planned around the Tennessee Valley to thank businesses and residents for voting.

“We will host a party that is free to the public at the new Mars Music Hall in Downtown Huntsville on Saturday, March 7, from 7-10 p.m.,” she said. “The party will feature local cover band Juice and will serve to kick off a series of celebratory events throughout 2020.”

Kuner said the “pop-up” parties will be held across North Alabama, “Since we are a regional airport, we want to celebrate this designation with all of our passengers.”

For information on the HSV Kick-Off Celebration Party in March and the other HSV pop-up parties, visit  FlyHuntsville.com, the airport’s Facebook page and Twitter @FlyHSV.

HSV Voted No. 1 Small Airport in the US

Huntsville International Airport (HSV) has been named the “No. 1 Small Airport in the US,” as part of the 2020 USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards. It is the only airport in Alabama in the top 20.

Rick Tucker, CEO of Huntsville International Airport, announces the results of the voting. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

Nominees were chosen by a panel of experts which included editors from USA Today, editors from 10Best.com, expert contributors, and sources from other Gannett media properties. Finalists were chosen by an online public vote that took place over the course of four weeks.

“We are ecstatic that Huntsville International Airport has been chosen by voters as North America’s best small airport for USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice awards,” said Rick Tucker, Chief Executive Officer, Huntsville International Airport. “Our team works each and every day to provide excellent service to passengers, but we also work to represent this region well so that a visitor’s experience will reflect positively on the state of Alabama as whole.
“We are so grateful to our community for supporting HSV by voting. We share this honor with them and will continue to work hard to provide North Alabama and Southern Tennessee residents with even more great options at their local airport.”
Airports are categorized by type of activities, including commercial service, primary, cargo service, reliever, and general aviation airports. The percentage of annual passenger boardings at a particular airport in relation to the overall number in the U.S. determines the hub size classification of an airport.

Frontier Airlines Adds Flight to Orlando and Restarts Denver Service

Frontier Airlines will be adding a weekly flight to Orlando just in time for summer vacations.
The low-cost carrier also said it will restart nonstop seasonal service to Denver from Huntsville on May 1. The flights to Orlando International Airport will begin June 1.
“We’re excited to continue our success in Huntsville by offering an additional weekly flight to Orlando and restarting service to Denver in June,” said Josh Flyr, vice president of network and operational design for Frontier Airlines. “We appreciate the outstanding partnership we have with the airport and community and look forward to welcoming area residents aboard our affordable, nonstop flights to these exciting destinations.”
Huntsville International Airport Executive Director Rick Tucker said the travelers helped prompt the expansion.
“Our community has been very supportive of Frontier Airlines since their entry into the market, as indicated by the 22 consecutive months of increased passenger traffic that the airport has experienced” said Rick Tucker, Executive Director for Huntsville International Airport. “Given that 19 of those months have reflected double digit increases we certainly consider the partnership to be a great success. Frontier Airlines has filled a void in our market and provides our leisure and business travelers with more options for a lower price.
“Our MyHSV program that provides a free travel agent to passengers has received an increased number of calls from passengers who want to fly from their local airport and are pricing HSV first.”
HUNTSVILLE (HSV) to/from ORLANDO (MCO)
Depart HSV: 12:42 p.m. Arrive MCO: 3:52 p.m.
Depart MCO: 10:47 a.m. Arrive HSV: 11:57 a.m.
Aircraft: Airbus A320 Family
Frequency: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
*2 flights weekly with Wednesday flight addition starting June 1 *
HUNTSVILLE (HSV) to/from DENVER (DEN)
Depart HSV: 6:41 p.m. Arrive DEN: 8:51 p.m.
Depart DEN: 2:14 p.m. Arrive HSV: 5:57 p.m.
Aircraft: Airbus A320 Family
Frequency: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Service Start: May 1
Seasonal

Hotel Indigo Coming to Huntsville’s MidCity District

A truly unique addition to MidCity District will be coming.

Hotel Indigo is joining the growing lineup at the $850 million mixed-use development in Huntsville at the intersection of University Drive and Research Park Boulevard, RCP Companies announced. This is a first-to-market hotel brand for the area and is developed by Chattanooga-based ViaNova Development.

Construction is scheduled to begin this spring and the targeted opening date is mid-2021.

Just as no two places are alike, no two Hotel Indigo properties are the same. Each hotel draws inspiration from the local neighborhood, culture and popular trends in food, drink and design to create a warm and vibrant atmosphere.

The Hotel Indigo Huntsville – MidCity will be the first Hotel Indigo property in North Alabama. With more than 100 hotels across 19 countries, Hotel Indigo is a branded boutique from InterContinental Hotels Group.

Every hotel is uniquely designed to capture the essence of the neighborhood with curated artwork and seasonal menus reflecting the local character and culture.

“Hotel Indigo offers guests an immersive experience that is truly reflective of the local community,” said Max Grelier, co-founder of RCP Companies. “By celebrating local art, music and food, Hotel Indigo delivers a genuine boutique hotel.

“Hotel Indigo’s commitment to the local culture is truly aligned with the MidCity District mission.”

Located along Nunnuhsae Park Drive, the 120-room five-story Hotel Indigo will provide guests with expansive views of the 40-acre public park and adjacency to Topgolf and the 8,500-capacity amphitheater.

In addition to the boutique hotel, the property will feature a restaurant offering locally sourced options, a comprehensive craft/beer cocktail menu, and indoor and outdoor spaces for gathering.

“ViaNova Development is extremely pleased about the opportunity to become one of the cornerstones of such an exiting and dynamic development,” said Vyomesh Desai, managing partner. “The growth in Huntsville has been amazing and we are proud to join the community …

“We are looking forward to bringing a truly boutique experience that embodies the cultural assets of the ‘Rocket City’ to the MidCity development.”

Recently ranked as the fourth-largest commercial real estate project in the U.S., MidCity Huntsville features first-to-market concepts in retail, dining, entertainment, residential and hospitality, including Topgolf, REI Co-op, Dave & Buster’s, High Point Climbing & the Adrenaline Zone, Wahlburgers, and world-class music venues.

Voting Ends Monday for Naming HSV Best Small Airport

Based on current voting tallies, Huntsville International Airport is in second place in the USA Today 10 Best Reader’s Choice 2020 Small Airports in the U.S. – and voters have through Jan. 13 to help Huntsville pull out a win.

You can vote daily: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-small-airport/huntsville-international-airport-huntsville-ala/ and are encouraged to share the voting link via social media as often and with as many people as possible.

Jana Kuner, public relations manager at Huntsville International Airport, said there are more reasons to vote than just showing support for the airport – it can draw the attention of more potential carriers, and make pricing more competitive, resulting in lower fares

“This vote is really more about getting the attention of the airlines that we are working with each and every day,” said Kuner. “It’s important for customers to know the airport doesn’t set the fares. The airlines charge what the market will bear and we have seen fares continue to become more competitive over the last few years due to new carriers joining our market like Frontier.

“If you want to help us attract even more new carriers like Southwest Airlines, then voting for us as the number one small airport in the U.S. will make the airlines take notice. Our Air Service Development team will continue to work with existing and new carriers to encourage them to bring more service and competition to the market.”

Twenty small airports across the U.S. have been nominated for the award and voting has been going on for nearly four weeks.

USA Today’s 10Best.com averages 5 million visitors per month and provides a variety of travel content, top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for the top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.