Willard Airport exploring flights to east coast

Willard Airport exploring flights to east coast

     Willard Airport in Savoy could soon be expanding its flights to the east coast.

     It was announced on Tuesday that the airport will get a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.  The money will help Willard officials put together a plan that would have flights run to Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C.

     Bruce Walden is the Director of Real Estate Planning and Services for the University of Illinois, which owns the airport.  He said airport and university officials will get to work on the project right away, and they're hopeful that it will become a reality.

     Walden also said Willard Airport could certainly use the boost in business that flights to the east coast would provide.

      Walden said the airport will work with a consulting firm to create a package to pitch to airlines.  He said the top candidate to work with at this point is United Airlines.


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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm
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Dulles? That's terrible.


Why not National or even BWI? They both have fast, cheap transportation to downtown DC. Dulles is so far away, you might as well fly to eastern Ohio. And there's no train, no bus. 

cretis16 wrote on August 14, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Not to worry..perfect example of wasted federal money on a flight that no one can afford unless they are U of I people on public funds. If I had a dime for every din witted grant writer that comes up with these wastefull federal " maybe" projects, I could take the whole town of CU to HAWAII on vacation.

bmwest wrote on August 14, 2012 at 8:08 pm
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I have to imagine that we'd be better served to consolidate operations with Bloomington and run a bus to BMI.  Higher volumes would mean lower fares, more frequent service, and more destinations and it's only an hour away.

just_wondering wrote on August 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

BMI has been out front of CMI for years with more airlines and more destinations. If CMI would just throw in the towel BMI could attract even better service. BMI has free parking - something CMI will never give up because it reduces their losses. But if the bulk of the traffic at CMI is UIUC staff, then it's just robbing Peter to pay Paul. Staff turn in the parking fee as a reimbursable expense against either State funds or federal research grant funds, that then are basically transferred to the parking division. And if it's federal research grant funds, tack on another 58.5% in overhead fees that UIUC gets. What a racket. Fly BMI.

Bob from Champaign wrote on August 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm

I've always thought there would be a market for "Big 10 Air"  a regional carrier that would just serve all the Big 10 university cities.  Think of the links that would provide. Northwestern=O'Hare, Ohio State=Port Columbus. Minnesota=Minneapolis/St Paul.  Plus all the regional airports served by the Universities in the smaller communities like C-U, Madison, Ann Arbor etc.  Using efficient regional jets and $99 one-way fixed seat price one could move around the midwest pretty well and have lots of opportunities for connections to virtually anywhere in the world.  For $99 you could hop over to any of the other Big 10 cities for events or even special lectures.  Add a cargo component, and you could have inter-campus deliveries of packages in support of research projects.  Of course, sports travel could be HUGE.  Flightstar is already a maintenance center for Embraer jets. We've got an Institute of Aviation that coud be expanded to support training and staffing. There's a better use for that $500K. 



pattsi wrote on August 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm

This comment is akin to "remember the Alamo"; remember the Delta incentive that had a two-year clock and when that ticked Delta left and the cities and unversity had a play a "pretty penny." It was a huge cost with no results.  :-)  Hard lesson to forget and not have a learning curve.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm
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Pattsi, are you suggesting people should learn the lessons of history? That's CRAZY talk!

Mqqneyes wrote on August 15, 2012 at 7:08 am

How's about Air Choice One that flys out of Decatur to Chicago and St Louis in style. Much cheaper than American.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 15, 2012 at 8:08 am
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Hello Bill.

I'd never heard of it. Good find.


rtrott wrote on August 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

American flies 200+ passengers a day to Chicago. I don't think the 8 seater Cessnas are gonna cut into that and I would see that as a step back. Most of the passengers at CMI are business or international passengers and I can't see them fighting to get one of the 8 seats on a tiny prop plane. I give the airport a little credit this time for going after a major airline instead of going after the Vision airlines of the world. The officials out there are kind of handcuffed by the university and are wrapped in the red tape that comes along with a state university owned airport. They need to sell the airport and I bet you would see a more competitive airport.

dleecol wrote on August 15, 2012 at 10:08 am

We never seem to address the real issue regarding air service to Champaign-Urbana, the University of Illinois owns and operates the airport. It cost airlines and passengers too much to use CMI because the U of I charges too much. This includes landing fees, parking, and concessions. Interestingly, the news media never does a comparison of landing fees between Willard Airport and Bloomington Airport. I would like to know how they compare.

just_wondering wrote on August 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I will still fly through O'Hare to get to Reagan National Airport rather than go direct to Dulles from CMI (or BMI for that matter). Dulles is just too far out there. Also convincing airlines it will be profitable and there will be enough passengers for 2 nearby regional airports both with service to DC doesn't seem likely to happen. It would have been better to give Bloomington $1,000,000 to target flights to Reagan National Airport. Bloomington has a better track record of attracting and retaining multiple airlines at their airport.

just_wondering wrote on August 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

But I agree that not awarding the grant money in the first place was the best option - this is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Just sayin' that if the money has to be spent, better spent at BMI than CMI.