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Eastern Iowa Airport on pace to break ridership record

Vehicles drive along the new entrance lanes to access the short and long term parking lots as well as the terminal at The Eastern Iowa Airport in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Vehicles drive along the new entrance lanes to access the short and long term parking lots as well as the terminal at The Eastern Iowa Airport in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Amid terminal expansion and plans for new cargo facilities, the Eastern Iowa Airport is on pace to set a new passenger record this year.

The Cedar Rapids airport broke monthly ridership records in nearly every month of 2018 and has seen year-to-date enplaned passengers — people boarding a plane at Eastern Iowa Airport — increase 5.3 percent compared to the same time last year, according to a December news release.

The release notes that increased charter flights from Eastern Iowa to Tampa, Fla., for the Iowa Hawkeyes’ appearance in the Outback Bowl should further boost air travel to close out the year.

In October, the airport saw nearly 109,100 passengers, breaking last year’s October record by 6.5 percent.

The airport saw more than 101,100 passengers in November, surpassing 2017’s November record by 4.25 percent.

According to the release, January is the only month of 2018 that didn’t generate a new monthly passenger record.

The airport set its current annual passenger record last year, with 1.14 million total passengers.

Airport Director Marty Lenss this past fall said crews were about halfway done with Phase 3 of airport upgrades. Work left included temporarily relocating the security checkpoint for updates, removing the old escalators, adding larger bathrooms and a mother’s lounge, and building a restaurant and coffee kiosk.

The project is expected to be completed in the summer.

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In addition to breaking passenger numbers — Eastern Iowa Airport sees about 30 percent of Iowa’s commercial traffic — the airport’s share of the state’s cargo traffic also is increasing.

By the end of the year, the airport is expected to handle about 50 percent of the state’s cargo traffic.

To address freight needs, the airport earlier this year broke ground on a more than $10 million overhaul of the airport’s cargo facilities.

• Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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