Northwest Alabama Regional Airport
Northwest Alabama Regional Airport
NAIP image, 2006
|Owner||Colbert & Lauderdale Counties|
|Serves||Muscle Shoals, Alabama|
|Elevation AMSL||551 ft / 168 m|
Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (IATA: MSL, ICAO: KMSL, FAA LID: MSL) is a mile east of Muscle Shoals, in Colbert County, Alabama. It is owned by the counties of Colbert and Lauderdale. The airport is serviced by Boutique Air, subsidized by the Essential Air Service program. Formerly, the airport operated as Muscle Shoals Auxiliary Field.
The airport opened as Muscle Shoals Auxiliary Field opened in February 1940, but in 1942 it was taken over by the United States Army Air Forces as a World War II pilot training military airfield. It was assigned to the AAF Flying Training Command, Southeast Training Center (later Eastern Flying Training Command) as a basic (stage 2) pilot training airfield. Pilot training at the airfield apparently ended on May 30, 1944, with the drawdown of AAFTC's pilot training program. The airfield was returned to civil control at the end of the war.
Until summer 2009 Muscle Shoals was served from Northwest Airlines' hub in Memphis by Northwest Airlink (Mesaba Airlines turboprops). After Northwest was acquired by Delta Air Lines, service was transferred to Delta's hub in Atlanta. This has seen increased passenger numbers and less market leakage to nearby Huntsville Airport. Despite the increase in enplanements, on November 23, 2010, Delta announced that it would not re-apply for the Essential Air Service subsidy to provide service between Muscle Shoals and Memphis. The cited reason was the retirement of partner Mesaba's Saab 340 fleet. Under federal law, Delta Connection must continue service to Muscle Shoals until a replacement carrier is found. In 2011, Air Choice One, a Missouri-based carrier, submitted a proposal to the US DOT to serve Muscle Shoals with flights to either Atlanta, Nashville or Memphis. Pending acceptance of the proposal, the airline was planning to begin flights in as little as 30 days. This airline never commenced service to Muscle Shoals.
Eastern Airlines stopped at Muscle Shoals from 1947 to 1964. Southern Airways Douglas DC-9s flew nonstop to Atlanta and via Huntsville, and Southern Martin 4-0-4s flew to Memphis. Southern merged with North Central to form Republic, which continued at Muscle Shoals with DC-9-50s to Atlanta and with Convair 580s and Metroliners to Memphis. Republic was acquired by Northwest Airlines which ended jet flights to Atlanta but started Northwest Airlink service to Memphis with Jetstream 31s. Northwest Airlink replaced the Jetstreams with larger Saab 340s before all service ended.
Beginning in October 2012, Muscle Shoals was served by Silver Airways with two daily flights to Atlanta. Due to constant delays and cancellations, ridership declined to about 3 passengers per day under Silver, below EAS guidelines. Silver ended service to Muscle Shoals in October 2014. SeaPort Airlines announced it would take Silver's place in the Fall of 2014,SeaPort began daily flights to Nashville and Memphis on January 12, 2015. Seaport service lasted less than one year and ended on October 20, 2015. The US Department of Transportation awarded the EAS contract to Boutique Air in 2016.  Currently, Boutique Air provides four round trips to Atlanta every day utilizing a 8 seat Pilatus PC-12.
In the year ending November 30, 2012 the airport had 44,490 aircraft operations, average 122 per day: 94.4% general aviation, 1.6% airline, 0.6% air taxi, and 3.4% military. 62 aircraft are based at this airport: 61% single-engine, 23% multi-engine, 6% jet, and 10% helicopter.
Airline and destinations
Scheduled passenger service:
|Year||2008 ||2009 ||2010 ||2011 ||2012 ||2013 ||2014 ||2015 ||2016 ||2017 ||2018 |
|Airline||Mesaba Airlines dba Northwest Airlink||Mesaba Airlines dba Delta Connection||Mesaba Airlines dba Delta Connection||Mesaba Airlines dba Delta Connection||Pinnacle Airlines dba Delta Connection||Silver Airways||Silver Airways||SeaPort Airlines||Boutique Air||Boutique Air||Boutique Air|
- FAA Airport Master Record for MSL ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective March 5, 2015.
- "IATA Airport Code Search (MSL: Muscle Shoals)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- Patterson, Jerrita (November 23, 2010). "Delta Airlines Opts Out of Servicing the Muscle Shoals Airport". WHNT News 19.
- McLaughlin, Budd (October 14, 2011). "Missouri air carrier proposes serving Northwest Alabama Regional Airport". The Huntsville Times.
- Corey, Russ. "Regional airport pursues exit of airline". timesdaily.com. Times Daily. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- Seid, Dennis. Despite order, SeaPort ends service, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, October 23, 2015, Retrieved 2016-02-24
- Watkins, Carter. Boutique Air begins service to the Shoals, WHNT-TV, February 24, 2016, Retrieved 2016-02-24
- "Muscle Shoals, AL: Northwest Alabama Regional (MSL)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. December 2014.
- "Passenger Boarding (Enplanement) and All-Cargo Data for U.S. Airports – Airports". www.faa.gov. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
- "2008 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports with Enplanements (by State)" (PDF, 1.0 MB). CY 2008 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. December 18, 2009.
- "2009 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports (by State)" (PDF, 891 KB). CY 2009 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data]. Federal Aviation Administration. November 23, 2010.
- "2010 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports (by State)" (PDF, 189 KB). CY 2010 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data]. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2011.
- "2011 Enplanements at Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports (by State)" (PDF). CY 2011 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data]. Federal Aviation Administration. October 9, 2012.
- "2012 Enplanements at All Airports (Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation) by State and Airport" (PDF). CY 2012 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data]. Federal Aviation Administration. October 31, 2013.
- "2018 Enplanements at All Airports (Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation) by State and Airport" (PDF, 1.05 MB). CY 2018 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data]. Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
- Northwest Alabama Regional Airport, official site
- Aerial image as of February 1999 from USGS The National Map
- FAA Terminal Procedures for MSL, effective May 21, 2020
- AC-U-KWIK information for KMSL
- Resources for this airport: