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From the Director’s Desk: In Pursuit of a Win for the Quad Cities

February 24, 2023

Travel demand is roaring back and airlines are quickly evolving in a post-pandemic world. Combine that with limited resources and as a result, the airlines are having to make tough choices about air service. We’ve seen this play out across the country as airlines continue to drop service from markets, leaving some communities without any commercial air service.

MLI has lost two routes since the pandemic – Detroit and Minneapolis, both with Delta. Total available seats in our market are down 6% year over year yet we only saw a 4% decline in total passengers. We ended the year with 10% growth in passengers over 2021 despite losing service to MSP. While activity is not where we would like it to be, the data tells us that demand is strong in the Quad Cities.

Last year, we focused more energy on pursuing air service, and we will continue to do so. But we’re also exploring how we can show, not tell, the airlines that our region not only wants more air service, but can easily sustain it. One of the first things airlines look for is data that shows a region is growing and expanding. Growth in the QC has remained relatively flat, so we have to look at alternative ways to tell a compelling story.

One way to do this is to make it a community effort. Airport staff is doing all we can to be competitive and attractive to the airlines. Now, we need our communities to step up. We will be seeking support from local community leaders in ways that have probably never been explored before. Their contributions and our collective efforts as a region of nearly 500,000 citizens can help make the difference. We’ve seen it work in other cities – we need to make it happen here.

We can’t give away all our secrets for what we’ve got in mind, but I want to reassure you that we are working hard behind the scenes to score a win for the Quad Cities. Has your business been negatively impacted by the loss of air service? Or, is your organization ready to take things to the next level but needs more air service to reach it? Let’s talk. That type of data is some of the most impactful to the airlines. Email us at [email protected].

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