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About Us

History & Mission

The Metropolitan Airport Authority is dedicated to providing a safe, efficient, clean and economical air transportation facility for the Quad Cities and surrounding communities.

A storied past

In 1919, the first airplane landed in Franing Field. This pasture was chosen for the first coast-to-coast flight by army planes. Just three years later, an airport was established and grew to 200 acres of land to support joy rides and cargo freight. From those early grass strips to being the third largest airport in Illinois, it seems we’re never content to rest on our legacy but continually build upon it.

Quad City Airport Historical Aerial

The beginning

Four local pilots, Gus DeSchepper, Floyd Ketner, Dr. C.C. Sloan and J. Wesley Smith, joined together to develop an airport at Franing Field. It’s easy to see from this aerial shot why Franing Field was such an attractive piece of land for an airport. Wide open spaces meant being able to take off from any point on the field and it also meant there was plenty of room to grow.

Our early start meant lots of innovators wanted to find their place in aviation development.

Iowa-native Clayton Folkerts designed the Monocoupe which featured side-by-side seating, an enclosed cockpit and was perfect for racing. Davenport-based Velie Carriage Company then purchased the company that had been manufacturing the Monocoupe. The stages of Velie transportation show the tremendous progress that was made. A restored Monocoupe now hangs in the airport’s atrium.

Phoebe Omlie, the first woman to earn a transport pilot’s license and the first to receive an aircraft mechanic’s license set numerous records with her Velie Monocoupe which she named Miss Moline.

We made our mark by becoming part of the airmail route for National Air Transport but it was clear that the next big thing on the horizon was passenger air travel and we were ready for it.

historical image of moline airport

Hitting our cruising altitude

Our name changed alongside our expanding size and services, and we became the Moline Municipal Airport. More than 400 men spent 3 years preparing the airport for its first paved runways and taxiways.

In 1957 the first count of enplaning and deplaning passengers was made with a total of 59,701 recorded. The airport underwent major remodeling in 1961 and 1968, adding everything from baggage claim to a restaurant and boarding areas. The present airport terminal was completed in 1985. The shift to the new $11 million terminal allowed expansion of airline facilities; between 1979 and 1986, the number of airlines increased from two to seven.

Flying into the Future

In 2001, the airport doubled in size to include new concourses, a larger baggage claim area, a new restaurant and gift shops. It was during the early 2000s that the airport grew to its highest number of passengers in history. Nearly 1 million people traveled to and from MLI, thanks to low-cost carrier AirTran Airways. Unfortunately, AirTran was bought out but that left an opportunity for a new low-cost carrier to provide service to our growing leisure travelers. Allegiant joined the airport in 2010 and offers nonstop flights to warm weather destinations we Quad Citizens love.

As we look ahead to the future, we see the airport as a major player in helping our region evolve and grow. We are embarking on a major renovation that will not only improve the passenger experience but also make sure the airport is the show-stopper our passengers deserve. We’re also keeping a keen eye out for ways to be more sustainable with the use of clean energy.

Passengers will always be at the heart of what we do. From working with our airline partners to advocate for service to adding amenities to make our airport the hometown, easy experience you expect, the Quad Cities International Airport is here for you.

QC Airport terminal
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