Business

Breaking for spring: At the airport, 'this is on par with Thanksgiving'

Jamie Siefken (right) and Brandon Parizek (second from right) from Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery share samples of the company’s whiskey Friday at The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. It was busier than normal at the airport because spring break is beginning for many schools and colleges. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Jamie Siefken (right) and Brandon Parizek (second from right) from Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery share samples of the company’s whiskey Friday at The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. It was busier than normal at the airport because spring break is beginning for many schools and colleges. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s the start of spring break, which is a chance to travel, which means more people at The Eastern Iowa Airport.

About 15 percent more people were leaving the Cedar Rapids airport on Friday — around 2,300 compared to a Friday’s typical 2,000, according to Pam Hinman, the airport’s director of marketing and communications.

“You can see the airlines increasing the number of seats available,” Hinman said. “It’s definitely a good sign. Any time you have an increase in seats, it shows the airlines have an increased confidence in your market.”

Hinman said spring break — next week for many school districts and the University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College — is one of the busiest travel times of the year.

“This is on par with Thanksgiving for us,” she said.

Hinman said more travel means more cars in the parking, so those looking to depart should arrive early.

“Yes, we’re Cedar Rapids, yes, we’re smaller, but I really do urge people to get here at least 90 minutes before your departure,” she said.

The airport added to Friday’s spring break mood by hosting games, such as beanbags, and giveaways.

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In addition, the recently opened Cedar Ridge Barrel Room, managed by Swisher’s Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery, provided samples to travelers.

“We thought we would make it a little festive for folks,” Hinman said.

Last year saw 1.14 million passengers at the airport, a record, surpassing the previous record of 1.13 million passengers in 2014.

American Airlines added twice-daily nonstop flights to Charlotte, N.C., last year, and Frontier Airlines extended service to Las Vegas and Orlando International.

John McGlothlen / The Gazette

In addition, United and Delta upgraded several flights to larger aircraft.

Eastern Iowa Airport passengers for past decade:

• 2017 — 1,143,335

• 2016 — 1,084,310

• 2015 — 1,105,625

• 2014 — 1,132,991

• 2013 — 1,042,291

• 2012 — 984,884

• 2011 — 880,645

• 2010 — 918,367

• 2009 — 946,717

• 2008 — 991,512

• 2007 — 1,060,120

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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