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American Airlines will continue to provide services to Waterloo Regional Airport.

WATERLOO — The Waterloo Regional Airport has suffered a dip in commercial air passengers during recent months.

Reports provided to airport board members last week show just 4,676 enplanements on American Airlines flights out of Waterloo during the months of January, February and March.

That’s well below the 5,951 passengers during the same period last year and nearly 34 percent under the 6,260 enplanements during the first quarter of 2016.

“Unfortunately this was our worst quarter since the first quarter of 2014,” said Airport Director Keith Kaspari.

The airport has seen steady growth in air travel over the past five years. Total enplanements grew from 29,828 in 2012 to 33,208 in 2017. But the drop in the first quarter this year followed a weak fourth quarter of 2017.

Board member Arlene Humble, a travel agent, said uncertainty over whether American would continue serving Waterloo may have played a role in the decline.

Both American, the airports’s lone commercial carrier since 2012, and United Airlines had made proposals to provide service in Waterloo under the federal Essential Air Service program starting in May.

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The airport board voted in November to recommend switching to United Airlines based on the airline’s higher flight completion rate, which is the percentage of scheduled departures and arrivals that actually take place.

But the U.S. Department of Transportation decided to confirm a new two-year EAS contract for American Airlines to provide twice-daily flights between Waterloo and Chicago.

Resident David Deeds, who attended the airport board meeting, said he believed the uncertainty over which airline would be serving the city led some to choose other airports.

“I think a lot of damage was done by that decision to recommend United,” Deeds said.

Others questioned what role rates played in the drop in passengers.

Kaspari said Waterloo is very competitive to certain markets, including Washington, D.C., New York City and Miami. “Then you look at Atlanta and we’re not competitive at all,” he added.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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