The airport at Clinton is expanding, despite the loss of its manager. Airport board director Randy Clegg says it’s a business asset even though the airport doesn’t have ticketed airline service. Clegg says the city has a dozen or so Fortune 500 manufacturing facilities so there’s a high volume of corporate aircraft that come in and out, and the airport’s part of a transportation infrastructure focused on business. Clegg foresees a huge growth in General Aviation, with a growing market for chartered services. The former manager is leaving because the airport’s flight school took a hit after September 11th when strict bans on flying around nuclear power plants — like one in Illinois, right across the river — grounded planes at the Clinton airport. But Clegg says small airports like the one in Clinton are valuable to local communities, and charter flights for business travelers are becoming a better deal as airlines struggle with delays and cutbacks. There are only about 400 commercial airports for airline transport, but some 8000 airports in the nation for other air traffic. Clegg says all the residents of the rivertown between Dubuque and the Quad Cities benefit from aviation services. Little things like the checks your bank sends to Central Processing are sent overnight by air, parts for manufacturing plants and just-in-time deliveries come by plane, and hospitals use the airport for “air ambulance” service. Clegg says aviation has a ten-million-dollar impact on Iowa’s economy.
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