Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is the state of Alabama’s busiest and largest airport, serving almost 3 million passengers per year. It has consistently ranked among the top 75 U.S. airports in terms of the number of passengers served annually. The airport is located just five miles from downtown Birmingham and serves the residents of Birmingham and Central Alabama.
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport History
The airport started as Birmingham Municipal Airport in 1931, replacing the Roberts Field landing strip on the west side of the city where flights had been taking off since the late 1920s. The name was changed in 1993, when flights to Mexico and Canada prompted a more global title, Birmingham International Airport. In 2008, the suggestion was made to name the airport for famed civil rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth, and it became Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport.
In the 1940s, the airport was offered to the U.S. Air Force for wartime efforts, and the gesture paid off for the city of Birmingham. In exchange for a rental rate of $1 per year, the Air Force used the airport facility and made over $2 million in improvements. By August 1948, when the city regained control of the airport, it was larger in acreage and had a new control tower and modification plant. New taxi strips had been installed, and the terminal had been enlarged.
Throughout the years, the runways have been expanded and improved a number of times. Currently, the airport operates with two runways. They are 12000 feet and 7100 feet. Additional runways from the past have been deserted or are being used for taxiways.
Airport Terminals and Parking
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport
A second terminal was added in the 1960s, but that terminal as well as the original 1931 terminal are no longer used. They were replaced by a new terminal in 1973 built in a semi-circle design. This passenger terminal has undergone several modernizations and improvements throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The current terminal has two levels and two concourses, although a third concourse is planned. New construction continues to make the older buildings obsolete. Nothing remains of the 1931 terminal building, and the control tower built in the 1960s has made way for a new control tower, which opened in 2001.
A 1600-space parking deck was built in the 1970s, but it has been expanded and remodeled to now include over 5000 spaces. The multi-level deck is located adjacent to the terminal and features a covered walkway for passengers’ convenience. Hourly parking is available on one level of the deck, with the majority of the levels set aside for daily or short-term parking.
A long-term surface lot is available within minutes of the terminal, and there are over 700 spaces available in that lot. Shuttle bus service is provided for travelers to and from that lot on a continuous basis. A cell phone lot is also available for family or friends waiting to pick up arriving passengers.
Airport Transportation & Amenities
The airport is easily accessible for travelers with options for rental cars, taxi, limousines, and shuttle service into downtown Birmingham. Business travelers can work during layovers in the airport’s business center, which features high-speed internet connections for laptops and a copy center for printing. Wi-Fi connections are available for passengers throughout the airport.
In 1991, an air cargo facility was added to the airport, increasing its freight capabilities. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2006, and the airport is still growing and expanding each year. A music video was filmed in one of the unused terminals of the airport in 2008. The video, by Christian contemporary artist Brandon Heath, was for the Grammy Award-nominated “Give Me Your Eyes.”