Tag Archives: expansion

Silver Airways indefinitely suspends plans for southeast expansion, including Birmingham

Silver Airways saab340bSilver Airways formally announced plans on June 10 to indefinitely suspend beginning non-stop service from Birmingham, AL to Jacksonville, FL and New Orleans, LA less than a week before the flights were scheduled to begin, according to several media outlets. As recently as May 16, the Fort Lauderdale, FL-based company was promoting an airfare sale for the new routes, first announced in April. The company released a statement, referenced by WVTM 13 in their report, stating in part, “[d]espite robust marketing efforts, this market is not able to support flying this route at this time.” Refunds are being offered and the airline’s website still shows the proposed expansion on its route map.

It would have marked the first offers of direct-flight service to the two destinations from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport since Southwest Airlines discontinued serving them in 2013. A similar lack of support within the market was cited by the airline and in a subsequent AL.com report when the plans were announced in late 2012.

Silver also announced plans to not offer direct service between Orlando, FL and Savannah, GA on June 11 (service was set to begin June 23). (though Savannah was already celebrating the return of seasonal direct-flight service via Allegiant Air to several cities in Ohio). It was not the first time the company intended to expand its footprint only to delay and eventually suspend the plans. January saw Silver announce its intention to offer service from St. Pete Clearwater International Airport to Fort Lauderdale and Key West beginning in March. The change in plans (first delaying them, eventually backing out completely) came shortly after the company announced several new appointments: chief financial officer, chief operating officer, and vice president of airports and customer service.

According to an interview the Sun Sentinel conducted with company CEO Sami Teittinen in February, it’s been refocusing its efforts on Florida and the Bahamas in recent months. There is still a presence in the metro Washington, DC area, but it has seen its own share of issues and concerns recently (though efforts to remedy others appear to be working).

The mayor negotiating direct flight options isn’t that far-fetched — for several reasons

Straßenbahn BremenYesterday’s report about negotiations taking place between Birmingham, AL and the German state of Bremen by Joseph Bryant in AL.com had some scratching their heads. Instead, it probably should have had folks wondering why it had taken so long to get to this point.

An agreement signed in November 2011 between Alabama’s development office and Germany’s tenth largest city could be key in understanding how and why these talks are taking place — plus a reminder that it’s not uncommon for these types of negotiations to take place at all.

Alabama’s secretary of commerce, Greg Canfield, shared the following information with AL.com via a prepared statement back when the pact was announced:

“We have 68 German companies who have invested more than $5.8 billion in Alabama. Since 2000, these companies have been responsible for 10,305 announced jobs in our state.”

This document produced by the U.S. Consulate General’s office in Hamburg (it’s only eight pages) in 2011 spells out most of the reasons why the agreement still makes sense. The most recognizable of those companies has a significant presence in Central Alabama — it’s Mercedes-Benz. The company’s plant in Bremen is producing the same C-series W205 sedans currently under production in Vance, AL. It was the main focus of a follow-up visit made by the Bremen Economic Development agency in 2012.

The recently completed $201.6 million renovation and expansion of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport gives the facility an opportunity to provide a less-crowded alternative to Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, It does not serve as a hub (Delta’s main hub is located in Atlanta while Southwest effectively treats Nashville as its gateway to the southeastern United States). That said, as the Birmingham Business Journal recently suggested, incentives will play a key role in whatever ends up happening with regards to international or domestic direct flight service. It also doesn’t hurt that the current expansion project provides for additional gates to be added when and if the need is identified — and that a recently released master plan for Hartsfield still needs to be priced out and receive public input.

While it may seem weird to hear about the mayor being involved in negotiations to secure direct flights, it is not unprecedented. The example most relatable may be what happened in Columbia, MO. Shortly after the announcement that the Tigers would be joining the SEC, then first-term Mayor Bob McDavid was able to secure direct flight service via Delta to and from Atlanta, GA. This service was discontinued shortly after it was announced — but only because Delta thought American Airlines received a better incentive package to provide direct flight service to Chicago, IL (via O’Hare) and Dallas, TX. A more recent example (resulting in direct flight service to the same two cities) is what Bismarck, ND was able to secure from American via incentives.

Whether or not Birmingham is successful, the precedent is there. Time will tell what options will be available to area residents.

Photo: Straßenbahn Bremenkaffeeeinstein/Flickr.


Aereo announces expansion into Birmingham

aereo_antennaThere was a lot of buzz Wednesday afternoon as folks in Birmingham learned New York-based TV tech start-up Aereo was including The Magic City in a 22 city expansion this spring. It’s the result of the company receiving a $38 million infusion of financing from IAC/InterActiveCorp and Highland Capital Partners – a development made public on Tuesday and announced at CES.

It does seem to be a viable solution for those in the metro area who aren’t able to easily receive over-the-air digital signals who don’t want to consider cable TV or satellite as replacements. Customers will also be able to access Bloomberg TV, where Aereo’s CEO, Chet Kanjolia, spoke about the legality of the service yesterday morning. But if you want to watch, let’s say a BCS championship game on ESPN, you’re out of luck for right now.

But back to legality…

Shortly after it launched in New York City last year, many of the broadcast networks filed temporary injunctions against the company on the grounds of copyright infringement. Their workaround involves the digital antenna you’re paying to lease from them (that’s what’s pictured up above, alongside a dime). Incidentally, The New York Times points out that Aereo doesn’t currently pay for the content. There are also concerns about what legally constitutes digital video recording, and how the service will affect revenue for the networks.

Prices for the service range from $1 a day to $80 a year in addition to a one hour per day free trial option, with DVR storage options available from 3 – 40 hours. It works on PC and Mac platforms, with plans for an Android version to be introduced later this year.

Are 3,000 Twitter followers (& growing) enough for the NBA?

older skyline photo of BirminghamFive days ago a Twitter account was born – and with it rekindled hopes of Birmingham, AL landing a professional sports franchise. Last night’s push to garner 3,000 followers for @NBABirmingham on the social network seems to have worked. This morning’s column by Kevin Scarbinsky in The Birmingham News should push it well over that mark by lunchtime.

The folks cheering for its success (this site included) aren’t the only ones wanting to hear positive news from NBA commissioner David Stern. Ever since news of the potential sales of the New Orleans Hornets (a recently completed sale keeps them in NOLA with talk of a name change being floated) and the Sacramento Kings (a team technically still in play due to talks for a new arena taking several twists and turns – and Stern’s recent comments about their once proposed move to Anaheim) were floated, Anaheim, CA; Columbus, OH (a recent entrant); Kansas City, MO; and Las Vegas, NV (they’re already hosting the NBA Summer League) have made pitches to be the next home for an NBA franchise. That’s a pretty impressive list – especially when you haven’t included the folks in Seattle, WA who still want a replacement for their Sonics (who incidentally are in the NBA Finals this year as the Oklahoma City Thunder).

Despite the long odds, the enthusiasm of the account’s operator, 15 year old George Chamoun, can be infectious:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/NBABirmingham/status/215063624530665473″]

Then there’s the fact that Stern doesn’t seem himself as commissioner past 2018, based on comments made at the end of the interview he participated in during halftime of Game 3 of this year’s NBA Finals. It could be the opening many fans are hoping gives us a better chance. You could argue they’re just laying the groundwork for when it’s finally time.

A chance for college students to work at the airport this summer

new BHM concourse under constructionIf you head on over to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport the back way (maybe to grab some lunch at VJ’s on the Runway), you’ve probably been paying a lot more attention to the facility’s modernization project than most. Well, you and the folks that regularly line that one stretch of fencing along East Lake Boulevard to watch the planes take off and land…

This year’s Summer Internship Program at BHM is going to give a few lucky individuals a chance to probably know a little more about the project. It’ll give students currently enrolled in a college, community college, technical institute, or university who’s planning to return to class in the fall an opportunity to work on various projects at the state’s busiest airport.

Of course, you could always visit the website set up to chronicle the progress of phase one. That phase is scheduled to be completed this coming December. The entire $201 million project is slated to be finished in 2014.

Photo: BHM’s new concourse under construction from East Lake Boulevard.

the35212’s founder plans to expand citywide

the35212 logoCharlotte Donlon started the35212 two years ago as a way to help focus on the people, places and events in the neighborhoods contained within, including Crestwood and Woodlawn. She was the focus of one of my first Digital City columns for B-Metro Magazine. Now, she’s announced two different initiatives that should raise the profile of the site across the city.

There’s currently an effort underway to raise funds to produce an “old school community newsletter” for the site via Kickstarter. As of this post (with nine days to go), they’ve received pledges for approximately 55% of the funds necessary to start the project.

Donlon’s also announced plans to do similar sites for each of the city’s 28 zip codes. Each zip code’s web domain would be similar to the35212 with a central site, initially planning to be headquartered at findingbhm.wordpress.com, connecting them all. She’s posted additional information about the expansion of her project here. She’s also laid out initial plans for sponsorship of the current site.