Dubuque airport: More than flights to Chicago - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque airport: More than flights to Chicago


DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The Dubuque Regional Airport opened its doors, hangars, and planes on Sunday for an open house to show its more than just a place to catch a commercial flight.

Managers say it's a place for hobby pilots, skydivers, students, and soldiers, and that can mean big money for the city.

"I've been a pilot since I was 16 years old. I got my private license when I was 17. I won't tell you how long that's been," Dan Kruse jokes.

What Kruse will tell you is he's owned his own plane since 1976, and for those 33 years, he's always used a Dubuque Regional Airport hanger.

"All of the facilities that you need are here. All of the navigation facilities are here including all of the instrument landing facilities and so on. There's maintenance on the field. It's also a controlled airport with our control tour and ground control and also with radar we recently acquired," Kruse said.

Kruse says all of those elements are tough to find in small airports. Airport management says having a strong local airport means a strong city.

"If you look at other small towns like Maquoketa or Clinton, what's really the difference between them and Dubuque? Well, Dubuque has got a commercial service airport. We've got a vibrant local economy. They work together," Airport Manager Robert Grierson said.

Grierson says the airport's already brought Dubuque millions and will land even more big business.

"The state of Iowa did a study. An economic impact study where they estimated this local airport contributes over 30 million dollars a year in direct economic benefit to the community," Grierson said.

"If you can't get to Dubuque, you're not going to invest in Dubuque."

That's why they say connecting the world to Dubuque means money.

Dubuque airport officials they're only down about 4.3% this year. They say most airports nationwide are seeing around a 20% loss in terms of passenger traffic.

Those numbers only go until August which is the month when Delta pulled out of the Dubuque Regional Airport. Delta acquired Northwest last year. Delta announced it would leave five regional airports earlier in the summer.

Dubuque airport management tells us they are concerned about the financial effect on local car rental companies and the airport restaurant with Delta gone. They say they are working on getting an additional American flight, but the prospect of getting another carrier is not in the near future.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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