PEORIA — Peoria's airport set a passenger-travel record last year, bolstered by seven monthly travel records.
Some 672,594 passengers traveled through Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport last year, a 5 percent leap over the previous record 641,671, set in 2015.
"This is what can happen when our community chooses to ‘Fly Local,’ and our airlines do notice,” said airport director Gene Olson in a prepared statement. "PIA is fortunate to have a good mix of routes to serve both leisure and business travelers, and a strong airport not only benefits existing businesses in the area, but, hopefully, can attract new businesses as well."
The airport set individual monthly travel records in March, May, June, July, August, October and November. June was the busiest single month in the airport's existence.
Travel is poised to continue expanding, Olson suggested. In February, American Airlines is slated to bring larger jets to the airport for its Charlotte, N.C., route with nine business class seats on the 65-seat aircraft. First class service to Dallas/Fort Worth was added by American in 2017.
Olson also complimented airport staff for continuing ordinary operations despite some of them working without pay during the ongoing partial government shutdown.
"I cannot praise our staff, airline crews and federal employees enough, especially the TSA, FAA air traffic controllers and U.S. Customs, who have been working without pay during this government shutdown," he said. "They’re working as if it’s business as usual, even though it clearly is not, and it’s because they care that the lives of their friends, family and neighbors aren’t disrupted like theirs have been. It’s truly commendable."