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Local Airports Hope for Increased Passengers in 2014

Peoria - It's a tale of two airports.
PEORIA - It's a tale of two airports.

One saw record traffic run through its turnstiles, the other has seen a drastic drop over the last two years, and now they both have a plan to trend upwards.

For the second straight year, Peoria International Airport set a record for passenger turnout.

"It's just really cool to see people using the airport and supporting the service, because it's like I said, it's a high five moment," said Gene Olson, director of airports.

PIA now features flights to ten different destinations each day... going to several major hubs across the U-S.

"And if there's a place in the world you can't get to, with two connections, you probably don't want to go there," said Gene Olson.

Airport officials say its services to the south have been big contributors to Peoria's rise...and Bloomington's fall.

"They saw some significant challenges presented to them when Air Tran left, and that was really all about access to Atlanta," said Gene Olson.

"We no longer have the substantial market competitive advantage on some of the airports in Central Illinois do. We still enjoy parity and the advantages on other markets, but that does contribute to the traffic decrease also," said Carl Olson.

CIRA has been rebuilding...with flights on Frontier and Allegiant Air that take customers south and west.

“Our Florida service and other low fare service is doing very well and we typically try to cultivate that and generate additional traffic, not only by adding new airlines but also looking at the airlines we have," said Carl Olson.

While CIRA is hopes to recover its numbers, PIA faces a tall task to continue growth, and Olson says he knows where to look.

"Really, there's a lot of people who drive to Chicago or St. Louis to get on an airplane and those are the people I'm focusing on and trying to get them back to Peoria," said Olson.

And with more flight deals in the works, both airports are hoping 2014 is a year to remember.

Airport officials say people from both cities are using both airports. CIRA officials say its second flight to Dallas could be a big part of the rebuild of its passenger base.

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