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Willard airport reaches highest number of passengers since 2010

A+photo+Willard+Airport+on+May+29%2C+2015.++Willard+Airport+is+located+at+11+Airport+Rd.+in+Savoy.
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Willard airport reaches highest number of passengers since 2010

A photo Willard Airport on May 29, 2015.  Willard Airport is located at 11 Airport Rd. in Savoy.

A photo Willard Airport on May 29, 2015. Willard Airport is located at 11 Airport Rd. in Savoy.

The Daily Illini File Photo

A photo Willard Airport on May 29, 2015. Willard Airport is located at 11 Airport Rd. in Savoy.

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

A photo Willard Airport on May 29, 2015. Willard Airport is located at 11 Airport Rd. in Savoy.

By Samantha Boyle, Staff Writer

In 2017, Willard Airport flew out the highest number of passengers in 10 years. The airport flew out over 100,000 passengers, said Gene Cossey, executive director of the airport.

The airport added another airline and expanded seat options so more passengers could fit on each flight, now able to seat 550 per day.

Willard Airport currently flies American Airlines and United Airlines. Cossey said the most popular destinations are New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, but all the flights that depart from Willard only go directly to Chicago or Dallas to transfer flights.

“Most of the flights leaving (Willard) were almost full, if not completely full,” Cossey said. 

More flights, seats and passengers mean more revenue for the airport. Revenue is also acquired from things like parking and concessions, not just the flight itself, he said.

Cossey said there is still room for the number of passengers to keep increasing, so the airport could potentially expand by next year.

“(The increase could) help us justify more growth and more development,” he said.

Cossey said they will take the data of the increase in passengers and show airlines in hopes that they will add more seats and flights. Most people flying through Willard, he said, are travelling for business, rather than being students.

“Student traffic isn’t as high as you’d expect,” he said.

The University football team flies out of Willard for every away game they have, said Alex Flores, team equipment manager and junior in Applied Health Sciences. However, Flores has only flown out of there once.

“It was a pretty quick and simple process,” he said.

Flores said at Willard, travelers do not have to deal with the large crowds that are usually in international airports.

“I would definitely prefer Willard over O’Hare,” he said.  

Cossey also said it may even be cheaper to fly out of Willard than flying out of O’Hare. According to Lifehacker, smaller, regional airports will save a flyer on airport taxes that international airports may implement.

However, flying from Willard Airport to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport costs about $400, while flying from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to JFK costs around $200 to $300.

Cossey said Willard Airport is basically the University students’ hometown airport, and asks anyone near it to consider their tickets and flights when looking to travel.

“Try to make it your first choice,” he said.

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