On May 31, 1931, The Birmingham Airport opened with pomp, ceremony and the greatest air show that the city had ever seen. Hundreds came to witness the Birmingham debut of commercial passenger service with a stop by American Airways along its Atlanta to Fort Worth route.
Fifty-five years and several expansions later, without ceremony or flair and only a fleeting public notice, the Birmingham Airport Authority was established by the Birmingham City Council. This June 1986 event would prove to be a prelude to the continued growth and significant revitalization of Alabama's largest commercial airport.
At the time of creation of the Airport Authority, the Birmingham Airport offered only 38 daily departures. By December of 1987, 43 cities could be reached by non-stop and /or direct service from one of seven airlines (American, Eastern, Piedmont, USAir, Delta, Southwest and United). By October 1988, the Birmingham Airport offered 65 daily departures and served 1.9 million passengers.
In 1993, as Birmingham marked the completion of a $50.4 million terminal renovation, flights were up to 77 departures per day, serving nearly 2.1 million passengers that year. Direct service was added to destinations in Mexico and Canada and on October 20, 1993 the name was officially changed to Birmingham International Airport.
The Birmingham Airport reached a peak in 2000 with 3,067,777 passengers served and 81 daily departures non-stop to 28 cities and direct to 48 cities. The first half of 2001 was setting the stage for another record year when the tragic terrorist attacks occurred on September 11. The years since that terrible day in 2001 have been rebuilding ones and the airline and travel industry seem to have finally rebounded. In 2005, The Birmingham International Airport set a new record by serving nearly 3.2 million passengers. With the upward trend continuing in 2006, Birmingham International is once again making plans to expand and modernize the current terminal.
On July 16, 2008, the Birmingham Airport Authority Board of Directors approved the airports renaming for Birmingham Civil Rights Activist Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth.
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