Letter from the Executive Director – Winter 2024

Director’s Corner: Tim Bannon, AAE – Executive Director

It’s been a challenging, and exciting, time at the University of Illinois – Willard Airport. We have faced the most significant weather events in the Airport’s history with last summer’s derecho – we have completed repairs, some of which have resulted in noticeable upgrades to the passenger experience.

University of Illinois – Willard AirportWe’re thrilled to welcome Ion Grove Café to the Airport terminal, which will open this spring in our gate area. The location not only offers healthy and local meal choices to our travelers, but also brings exciting innovation in the form of one of the first robot coffee baristas at an airport.

We welcomed the members of our new, Chancellor-appointed Airport Advisory Board to their roles, advising our administration team and better connecting us with our community stakeholders. The board is already working hard on a new initiative – to raise incentive funding for nonstop service to places such as Florida, Las Vegas, or Phoenix.

I couldn’t be more proud of our airport team. We were named the 2023 Primary Airport of the Year by the Illinois Department of Transportation. It’s the first time Willard Airport has won the award. We beat out, not only, other airports in central Illinois, but also airports such as O’Hare and Midway, for the honor. IDOT noted Willard’s passenger satisfaction and safety as key factors in the selection.

This award is the best evidence yet that we’ve rededicated ourselves to making flying easier for you. As always, we hope you’ll Fly Champaign-Urbana first.

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