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From the Director’s Desk: MLI’s Promising 2024 and Beyond

June 24, 2024

2024 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for MLI. We’re witnessing a significant uptick in traffic, and airlines are taking notice. Allegiant has extended its service to Phoenix/Mesa through August, a move that reflects confidence in our market after pausing it between May-October in recent years. American Airlines is testing a third daily departure to Dallas-Fort Worth, while United is exploring a fifth daily departure to Chicago O’Hare.

However, increased flights do not signify the resolution of challenges like pilot, air traffic controller and aircraft shortages. In aviation, gains in one community can sometimes mean losses for another. The dynamic nature of airline operations means services can come and go depending on demand—a reality we must navigate carefully.

The importance of community support for our local airport cannot be overstated, especially in a post-pandemic landscape where airline resources remain constrained. The commercial air travel industry is forever changed, necessitating a recalibration of expectations and strategies.

Economic development is a crucial driver behind expanded air service. Airlines seek regions that demonstrate robust economic health and growth—factors such as business expansions, job creation and tourism appeal play critical roles in attracting and retaining air service.

Our efforts are not confined to boosting one city; they encompass regional economic prosperity. Yet, our challenges are longstanding. The growth of our airport often mirrors the growth—and sometimes stagnation—of our broader region. To compete effectively, we must craft compelling narratives backed by solid data, highlighting why our region deserves sustained airline investment. We aren’t just competing against our nearest airport neighbors; we’re competing against every small market in the U.S., so we better have a good story to tell.

No airline will see the Quad Cities as a worthwhile investment if we, as a community, do not first believe it ourselves. We have enthusiastic local leaders but cheerleading alone isn’t enough. We need clear visions translated into actionable plans and tangible results.

Our “Why I Fly MLI” campaign resonated deeply with passengers who appreciate the value of their time, the importance of supporting local infrastructure, and the convenience of a smaller airport. These stories reaffirm our role in connecting communities, fostering relationships and creating opportunities.

Our ability to influence airline network planners lies in our choices—to use our hometown airport whenever possible. We encourage you to join us in championing MLI, leveraging resources like our blogs for savings and engaging with our social channels for exclusive rewards. As executive director, I proudly fly globally from the Quad Cities because I believe in what we offer. If you share this belief, I invite you to join us in spreading that message.

Together, let’s continue to elevate MLI as a hub of connectivity, growth and community pride.

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