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WATERLOO — More people took to the skies through the Waterloo Regional Airport last year, and flights at the airport saw an increase in reliability.

“Local and area air 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,” said Airport Director Keith Kaspari when the numbers were released as part of the airport’s End of Year report in early February.

The airport totaled 25,322 outbound passengers in 2016, which was an increase of 338 passengers over 2015. It was the highest annual passenger total since 2008 and marked the second year in a row ridership averaged more than 2,000 passengers a month.

The airport’s air service partner is American Airlines, and the increase came, in part, from additional flights on the weekends and a drop in cancelled flights.

“The increases in passenger numbers from CY-2016, fewer cancellations, improved on-time reliability and competitively priced airfares shows that American Airlines is providing an excellent product for Cedar Valley passengers,” Kaspari said.

Only 20 flights of the 693 scheduled flights were cancelled in 2016, compared to 35 of the 675 fights in 2015, according to the airport numbers. It also represented the lowest percentage of cancelled flights since 2012.

Airport officials have set a goal of 2,500 passengers a month for 2017. They also are planning to launch some improvement projects in the coming year.

This includes Federal Aviation Administration funds slated for removing a portion of a taxiway on Runway 18-36, repairing a heaved section of a joint that connects the end of an original Runway 12-30 with its extension and undertaking some airfield painting.

Iowa Department of Transportation funds are planned for adding energy efficient windows to the airport’s Fixed Base Operator’s building and updating heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. A hangar will be getting roof work and gutter repair and LED lighting inside.

“I feel if we can get all that done, it will make for a busy summer construction season and allow us to continue to focus on building ridership,” Kaspari said.

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