A state senator from central Iowa is predicting Governor Kim Reynolds will soon propose major funding for a new terminal at the Des Moines airport. Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale, a Republican, expects Reynolds to use part of her “Condition of the State” message in January discuss using new federal infrastructure dollars for the expansion.
“And that’s going to be a win-win for all of us not only as passengers, but from an economic development standpoint,” Zaun says.
A plan unveiled in 2020 calls for constructing a new terminal, with 18 gates, that would open before the end of the decade. Zaun says there’s demand for more flights in and out of Des Moines, but no space in the terminal that was originally built in the 1930s and expanded in the 1970s.
“Full disclose: most of my customers are outside the state of Iowa, so I’m in that airport about every other week,” Zaun says. “…There’s no doubt that we need more terminals. Every gate is full.”
Matthew Ahmann, an assistant vice president at Principal Financial Group, is the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s 2021 government policy council chairman. He says expanding gate space at the Des Moines airport won’t just benefit central Iowa.
“Anybody that’s been on one of those late flights where you’re flying in at about 10 or 11 o’clock and you’re talking to somebody next to you who’s hopping in their car and driving to Clear Lake — it’s really an Iowa issue,” he says.
House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights says many people describe the Des Moines Airport as Iowa’s front door.
“Especially, let’s not forget, people who are interviewing for jobs — when they come in, that’s the first thing they see,” Konfrst says. “…It helps people see what we have to offer right away.”
Republican Representative Brent Seigrist of Council Bluffs says “an affordable, robust airport” like Eppley Airfield in Omaha has been critical to business in western Iowa.
“Air transportation is very vital for economic development,” Siegrist says. “Des Moines needs to be better and I think the state should be part of that partnership and I think it would have a pretty good hearing moving forward.”
Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville says he mainly flys out of the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, but would support an upgrade to the airport in Des Moines.
“The funds that are coming out of
Washington, D.C. from the bipartisan infrastructure deal are obviously going to be huge for the State of Iowa,” Wahls says. “not just our airports, but our roads and bridges.”
Congresswoman Cindy Axne of West Des Moines, a Democrat who supported the bill, says it will provide $120 million for airport projects in Iowa. A total of $5 billion is headed to Iowa for road, bridges, broadband and other infrastructure like ports and rail lines.