Quad Cities International Airport: Past, present, future

Editor’s note: The following was written by Quad Cities International Airport governing board commissioner Jodi Fisk as her tenure as board chair came to an end. 

Like so many Quad Citizens, I have fond memories of going to the Quad Cities International Airport (QCIA) to watch planes take off and land. Back then, we could walk freely throughout the terminal, and even walk out on the tarmac, climb into a plane, and meet the flight crew who adorned us with wing pins. 

Obviously, the needs of the traveling public have changed dramatically since then. Many of these changes have been positive and, with new leadership in place, we are moving the airport into the future.

In 2018, we welcomed a new executive director, Ben Leischner. Under his leadership staff modernized our brand, signage, website, and communications. We are environmentally focused and added solar power while providing a covered parking option for passengers. We have a comprehensive plan to update our facility, particularly on the land-side. 

Like all organizations, the pandemic created myriad challenges for the airport. From the beginning, our leadership team’s top priority was the health and safety of the traveling public and our employees. Board meetings shifted to a virtual format to continue our policy and oversight role while Ben and his leadership team capably managed COVID-19-related issues. 

As a public body, we are more focused on transparency and educating the public about who we are, what we do and the importance of our airport to the community’s success. In order to attract more and better air service we need to use our airport. We have to demonstrate there is demand to garner stronger air service. The pilot shortage is complicating that growth. We have to continue doing our part so that when resources are less constrained, MLI is top of mind for airlines.

I have huge hopes for the airport’s future. Our board is fortunate to have highly talented leaders and team members. The QCIA is a great place to work, and we have an engaged workforce who brings their best to work every day. 

I’m looking forward to Project GATEWAY. We don’t need a brand new airport, but our existing structure has limitations and inefficiencies that must be addressed to remain functional and competitive. Remember, for many people visiting the Quad Cities, our airport is their first impression of the area.. 

The Interstate 74 Bridge was once a source of frustration and inconvenience. It has been replaced by a bridge that has become a source of community pride. I hope that when the renovation is completed, Quad Citizens will have the same sense of pride in our airport. 

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