Director’s Corner – 2022 Newsletter Issue 2

Letter from the Executive Director – July 2022

It’s a busy summer at University of Illinois – Willard Airport.  Our terminal is beginning to look like it did before the pandemic, with almost 400 people a day flying in and out.

We’re working hard to modernize the terminal and improve the travel experience.  We just won a million dollar grant to completely re-build the TSA security checkpoint and queuing area.  The new checkpoint will eliminate the lines that sometimes back-up to our escalators, and speed-up the system to get you to your gate more quickly.

The project is well-timed.  While the airline industry is struggling with a pilot shortage, our service has stabilized.  We have American Airlines flights throughout the day to both Chicago O’Hare and Dallas/Ft. Worth, connecting east central Illinois to more than 200 cities around the world in a single stop.

Other communities haven’t fared as well.  American has grounded about 100 regional jets – like the ones that serve Champaign-Urbana – because the airline doesn’t have enough pilots to fly them.  Other major carriers, such as Delta and United, have parked even more planes.  Almost 60 airports in the US have lost service from at least one airline, and 11 airports have lost service altogether.

We work to protect our connectivity every day.  But we can only do so much to convince airlines we have demand for more flights.  The real key is you.  The more our local community uses our local airline service, the more evident it is to American – and other airlines – that Champaign-Urbana needs more options.  If we fill more than 85% of our airline seats, we’ll be in a much better position to win exceptionally coveted pilot hours.

Remember, when you fly, Fly Champaign-Urbana first.

Tim Bannon
Executive Director
University of Illinois – Willard Airport

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