In this week's cover story, reporter Bryan Davis looked at whether the $201 million renovation of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport could reverse the airport's recent trend of losing flights.
TIt's a question of particular interest to Birmingham's growing tech community - as industry insiders say the lack of nonstop flights to venture capital rich areas like Silicon Valley and Boston are limiting their ability to raise funds.
According to the BHM website, the airport only offers nonstop flights to 19 cities around the country, mostly in the Eastern U.S. But according to findthebest.com, a large percentage of the nation's largest VC firms are clustered on the West Coast, which is a haven for high-growth startups.
But BHM doesn't offer nonstop flights to those areas, such as San Francisco, San Jose or Los Angeles. Its closest nonstop is to Las Vegas. Boston, a prominent East Coast hub for venture capitalists, also can't be reached nonstop from the Magic City - although the airport does have nonstop service to both New York City and Washington, D.C.
That has proven to be a challenge for local tech startups in the hunt for VC.
"The short answer to the problem of limited outgoing flight options in Birmingham is 'time is money,' which makes indirect flights much more expensive for busy executives than direct flights," said Tanveer Patel, president of the Birmingham Venture Club and CEO of ConcertCare. "And it's not just the cost of additional travel time. Out limited options also cost us in departure time convenience . Too often, I have to adjust my work schedule to suit the flight schedule."