WATERLOO – More passengers flew out of the Waterloo Regional Airport in 2016 than any time in the past eight years, a new report and data compiled by airport director Keith Kaspari shows.
A total of 25,322 outbound passengers during calendar year 2016, an increase of 338 passengers from calendar year 2015 in contrast with 2015. But it's also the most since 25,620 passengers "flew Waterloo" back in 2008.
The number of passengers flying out of Waterloo has especially increased over the past four years, largely due to American Airlines/American Eagle, airport officials reported. The passenger numbers for 2016 also reflect an increase of 5,990 passengers, or 38.6 percent over 2013, an by an average of about 9.7 percent a year.
"Slowly and surely, we are trending in the right direction," airport director Keith Kaspari said. "My goal is to continue to build ridership so we can justify with American Airllines a third departure to O'Hare (International Airport). They've served us very well.
"Our task is to get Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Northeast Iowa travelers to look at Waterloo, in contrast with maybe looking at the steering wheel for about an hour or two before they get to a larger airport," Kaspari said.
The airport's end-of-year report also indicates 2016 is the second year in a row the airport averaged over 2,000 passengers per month - 2,110. Monthly numbers also are approaching calendar year 2008, with a monthly average of 2,135.
Kaspari anticipates significant increases the monthly averages during 2017, with a goal of 2,500 passengers per month.
"This is good news," Kaspari said of the year-end numbers. “A very competitively priced air fare structure allows the airport to be looked at more favorably" in comparison to other nearby airports. Passengers "are becoming more aware that flying out of Waterloo saves money as they do not have to pay for an added fuel expense and the higher cost of vehicle parking,"
Kaspari noted in his report that the total number of annual American Airlines flights increased to 693 in 2016 from 675 in 2015, due to American officials adding service on weekends and fewer flights cancelled - 20 in 2016 compared with 35 in 2015. Additionally, American’s on-time reliability showed continued improvement .
Kaspari said, “The increases in passenger numbers from calendar year 2016, fewer cancellations, improved on-time reliability and competitively priced air fares, shows that American Airlines is providing an excellent product for Cedar Valley passengers.”