WATERLOO — More passengers flew out of Waterloo Regional Airport in 2016 than any time in the past eight years, a new report compiled by airport director Keith Kaspari shows.

There were 25,322 outbound passengers during calendar year 2016, an increase of 338 passengers from 2015. That’s the most since 25,620 in 2008.

The number of passengers flying out of Waterloo has especially increased over the past four years, largely due to American Airlines/American Eagle, airport officials reported. The passenger numbers for 2016 also reflect an increase of 5,990 passengers, or 38.6 percent over 2013, an average of about 9.7 percent a year.

“Slowly and surely, we are trending in the right direction,” Kaspari said. “My goal is to continue to build ridership so we can justify with American Airllines a third departure to O’Hare (International Airport). They’ve served us very well.

“Our task is to get Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Northeast Iowa travelers to look at Waterloo, in contrast with maybe looking at the steering wheel for about an hour or two before they get to a larger airport,” Kaspari said.

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The report also indicates 2016 is the second year in a row the airport averaged morethan 2,000 passengers per month — 2,110. That’s close to 2008’s average of 2,135.

Kaspari anticipates significant increases during 2017, with a goal of 2,500 passengers per month.

“This is good news,” Kaspari said. “A very competitively priced air fare structure allows the airport to be looked at more favorably” in comparison with nearby airports. 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.”

Kaspari noted the number of annual American Airlines flights increased to 693 in 2016 from 675 in 2015 due to added service on weekends and fewer flights cancelled — 20 in 2016 compared with 35 in 2015. Additionally, American’s on-time reliability showed continued improvement.

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

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