March is Another Record Month for Eastern Iowa Airport

By George C. Ford, Reporter

The Eastern Iowa Airport near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, aerial photo looking west with runway construction work on left side and Wright Brothers Boulevard lower right side, 6/23/2006.

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By Liz Blood

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Passenger travel through The Eastern Iowa Airport set a record in March for the second month in a row.

A total of 99,664 passengers used the airport in March, topping the previous same-month record of 98,435 passengers in March 2000. There were 48,948 departing travelers in March and 50,716 arriving passengers.

February also produced a record number of travelers with 79,359 passengers, eclipsing the previous same month record of 78,738 passengers in February 2006. There were 40,466 departing travelers in February and 38,893 arriving passengers.

Airport Director Tim Bradshaw said the two-month record tally appears to indicate "pure" growth in passengers using the airport, rather than travelers returning to Cedar Rapids after low-fare airline AirTran ended service to the Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Ill.

"Throughout 2012, we were seeing an increase in our numbers on a month-by-month, year-over-year basis, but that was when AirTran was still in Moline," Bradshaw said. "Starting in February of this year, I was anxious to see how the numbers would go when compared with the same month of 2012.

"We're seeing growth in our market in terms of enplanements, and if we had experienced better weather in March, our numbers would have been even higher. We had quite a few flights canceled during the month."

When passenger travel increases at the regional airport, it also raises revenue from the passenger facility charge paid by each travelers as well as concession revenue.

The Cedar Rapids Airport Commission on Monday voted to amend the fiscal year 2013 budget to increase revenue from operations to $14.6 million from $13.9 million due to higher farm cash rent and concession revenue as well as funds from federal and state grants.

The commission also voted to defer $2.9 million worth of capital improvements until fiscal 2014. Bradshaw said the deferrals included remodeling of the passenger terminal lobby.

"We were hoping to get under construction this fiscal year, but we hadn't really settled on a preliminary design," Bradshaw said. "The terminal project is the most visible to travelers and visitors. It's really our front door.

"We wanted to fully review the concepts and make sure it's exactly what we're looking for."

With the budget amendments, the airport will have gross revenue of $33.8 million, down from budgeted revenue of $34.8 million. Gross expenditures will be reduced 18.9 percent to $27.5 million from $33.9 million.

The commission on Monday approved advertising for bids for two capital improvement projects scheduled for this summer. A new entrance road for the rental car "ready" lot will be constructed off 18th Street SW and a new taxiway will be built linking the airport's secondary runway with a taxiway that parallels the main runway.

The commission is expected to award contracts for those projects at its May 20 meeting. Construction would begin in July and be completed in the fall.

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