Say what you will about Anniston’s often-overlooked airport and the convenient commuter service that departed years ago. As it exists today, the airport counts the Federal Aviation Association’s Flight Service Center, select business travelers and pilots needing refueling services as some of its main uses.
Yet, the airport can be a larger, more viable asset to Calhoun County than it is — even without a near-impossible return of commuter service to Birmingham or Atlanta. That’s why the city of Anniston should be commended for making improvements and rebranding of the airport a consistent issue recently.
This week, city officials gave staff of Anniston Army Depot an airport tour. The plan made sense: Identify those who may benefit from the facilities and introduce them to what’s possible at the airport that sits just south of the Alabama 21-U.S. 78 intersection in Oxford. Word is that depot officials were intrigued by what they saw.
“One thing that’s key in marketing the airport and its resources is to engage people who may have a need for its service,” Toby Bennington, Anniston’s city planner, told The Star.
Inviting depot commanders out for a look-see was a no-brainer; as a cornerstone among Calhoun County employers, they should be aware of what’s available. Likewise, the key point of Bennington’s statement is “people who may have a need for its service.” That’s important for any business — in this case, the city — to know: Who is a potential client? Is there is an untapped market? If so, where? Who? What’s obvious that we are missing?
There should be no thought that Anniston’s airport can again be a player in everyday air travel for northeast Alabamians. Those days took off years ago.
Nevertheless, city officials should press on with efforts to enhance the airport’s brand. They should also keep dispersing the message that they’re serious about partnerships and use-agreements with those who could benefit from what the airport offers.
If modern-day Anniston is going to have a viable airport that’s worth the expense, it might as well give it a rousing attempt.