Huntsville International Airport is planning its next moves for expansion.
During its regularly scheduled board meeting, the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority approved amending its Fiscal Year 2019 budget to allow funds for a new air cargo ramp project.
The addition would be placed on the west side of the airport near County Line Road and cost $12,126,680.
“We do think that that's going to be a great opportunity for us to meet the needs of companies that we're working with right now for their future expansion in our community,” Rick Tucker, executive director of the Airport Authority, said.
The board also voted unanimously on Tuesday to submit a grant request to the Federal Aviation Administration to reimburse the Airport Authority for the cost of the design work and construction costs.
This move would be in addition to the Taxiway C project that the airport is currently working on. Senator Richard Shelby helped secure a $29.1 million grant to help complete funding that project.
Tuesday’s meeting also marked the first for the Airport Authority since the midterm elections.
Tucker spent part of the meeting reviewing the changes in the House of Representatives and the Senate that will impact the airline industry.
He told WAAY 31 that one change that he thinks may be beneficial to airports is a change in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Schuster is retiring and will likely be replaced by the ranking member, Oregon Rep. Peter DeFrazio.
Tucker said that could be a good sign for airports around the country since DeFrazio introduced a bill in the House last year that would lift the cap off what’s called the passenger facility charge.
It's a $4.50 fee that’s added to the cost of an airplane ticket. Per Federal Aviation Administration rules, those funds must be put toward airport infrastructure.
“It has not been increased in 18 years while the buying, the purchasing power of those passenger facility charges is about half of what it used to be 18 years ago,” Tucker said.
He said it’s something to watch closely, but it would need bipartisan support to pass. The bill introduced by DeFrazio never moved beyond the House.