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Dubuque Regional Airport starts work on its now city council-backed master plan

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 5:00 AM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Dubuque City Council has unanimously approved the Dubuque Regional Airport’s master plan, which details what future projects the airport will be working on to meet demand.

Those projects are expected to cost more than $150 million dollars. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), however, would pay for 90 percent of it. The other ten percent would come from the city of Dubuque.

In 2019, an average of 104 passengers flew in and out of Dubuque each day, but the master plan projects the Dubuque Regional Airport will see an annual increase of almost 15,000 passengers by 2040.

“It is not back to normal or pre-COVID yet,” Todd Dalsing, the airport’s director, mentioned regarding current passenger numbers. ‘But it is very nice to see the restaurant open, seeing people arriving, meeting their loved ones for Thanksgiving.”

As the travel industry recovers from the pandemic, staff at the Dubuque Regional Airport are looking to the future through the new master plan.

“It takes into account our current infrastructure, our current enplanements, our current aircraft operations, our buildings, all that stuff, and then it looks at the future,” Dalsing explained. “So what future development? What do you need to not only maintain the airport, but also grow over the next 20 years?”

With the city council’s approval, Dalsing said staff have started to work on some of the short-term projects, like building a new taxiway.

“Our existing taxiway alpha is 40 plus years old, 50 years old, and that infrastructure is obviously been patched and repaired over the years, but it is failing,” he mentioned. “We got an FAA grant submitted, and we are waiting for the approval for the preliminary design for that project.”

Some of the long-term projects in the master plan include expanding the airport to the west and building a new airport apron.

“The airfield, our east side, or general aviation side, is pretty full,” Dalsing said. “We do not have a lot of room for expansion, maybe a couple of hangars and that is about it, so we are looking at expanding the west side of the airfield.”

But how will this help in the city and surrounding area?

“Tourism has a huge impact on Dubuque, on our economy,” Molly Grover, president and CEO of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “It has really, over the past 20 to 25 years, been a huge catalyst for change in our community.”

Grover explained the airport has an overall economic impact on Dubuque of $78.5 million. She also mentioned it adds about 700 jobs to the workforce.

“When people come to our community, they come to our community as a visitor first, whether it is for business or for pleasure,” she added. “So making sure our community is positioned to welcome visitors all year round is so important.”

Those interested in reading the airport’s master plan can access it here.

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