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Huntsville reopens expanded runway

After a year-long $27.8-million improvement project, Huntsville International Airport has reopened its west runway and taxiways.

The expanded runway and taxiways can now accommodate Panalpina’s 747-8 freighters, which are classified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration as group VI aircraft due to their size.

Air Cargo World reported on the expanded west runway in June.

"Huntsville International Airport is part of a small group of U.S. airports that have been FAA-certified to support these 747-8s," Carl Gessler, Jr., Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority (HMCAA) board chairman, said. "We share this distinction with cities like Miami, New York, L.A. and Chicago. Considering the size of our community as compared to the others on the list, this truly is an accomplishment for our region."

Huntsville International has already started the process to secure funding for upgrades to the east airfield, which would make the entire airport compatible for the 747-8.

"Most people are amazed to learn that our airport is the 14th largest international air cargo airport in the U.S., and this is due to our partnership with Panalpina," Rick Tucker, HMCAA executive director, said. "The new west runway and taxiway system gives Huntsville the infrastructure it needs to continue growth in global transportation and to strengthen the regional economy."