Survey Shows Major Community Support for Efforts to Expand Air Service at Dubuque Regional Airport

More than 90 percent of responses to a recent public survey expressed support for efforts to bring additional commercial air service options to the Dubuque Regional Airport. Additional data collected through the survey endorses the continued efforts of the Dubuque Community Air Service Team (CAST), especially the group’s top priority of securing daily air service to a regional hub airport.

The survey of more than 8,100 respondents was conducted in October and November of 2023. RRC Associates conducted the survey on behalf of the CAST, a group of civic and business leaders steering the effort to recruit additional carriers to Dubuque, and the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce. More than 70% of respondents live either within the Dubuque city limits (46%) or Dubuque County (25%).

CAST was formed in late 2022 and meets weekly with the goal of increasing the air service options in Dubuque and restoring daily flights to a regional hub. The team has reviewed the results of the survey and is incorporating any new findings into its ongoing efforts.

“The goal remains restoring daily commercial air service to the Dubuque Regional Airport,’ said Dubuque Mayor Brad Cavanagh. “That is what this community has told us it wants, and that is what this community not just needs, but deserves.”

Full results of the survey, as well as additional details about CAST’s activities, were discussed today at an Air Service Forum, hosted by the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce. The results can also be viewed on the Dubuque Regional Airport’s website, FlyDBQ.com.

Highlights of the survey include:

  • Ninety-one percent of respondents indicated they support continued efforts to attract air service to Dubuque. That support remained higher than 90 percent regardless of whether respondents had traveled on a commercial flight in the previous year or not.
  • Another strong majority (86%) say they would consider using the Dubuque Regional Airport if air service was expanded to a major hub airport.
  • Chicago O’Hare was the leading choice for potential hub connections, with 66% of survey-takers marking it as their first or second choice. Other top destinations included Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis, and Atlanta.
  • Nearly all respondents (97%) say that expanded air service at the Dubuque Regional Airport would have a positive impact on the economy in the greater Dubuque area. Further, 84%would expect a positive impact on their own household’s financial situation.
  • Of the survey-takers who had flown commercially in the past 12 months, 71%flew for leisure or non-business reasons, while 29%took a business trip.
  • Among that group of recent flyers, most flew through the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids (59%) or O’Hare International Airport in Chicago (50%) while 15% utilized the Dubuque Regional Airport for a flight within the previous 12 months.
  • Cedar Rapids (78% and O’Hare (59%) were also more frequently considered for flight options by survey respondents, along with the Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Ill. (57%). The Dubuque Regional Airport was considered by 45%.
  • Assuming expanded flight options become available, more than 90% of respondents said factors favoring the Dubuque Regional Airport would have a moderate to strong influence in their decision. Among these factors are comparable fares to other regional airports (96%) ease of use (95%), driving distance (94%), and free parking at Dubuque Regional (93%).

During the forum it was announced that CAST is transitioning into a new non-profit organization, DBQ Air. The group will have a stated mission of restoring, maintaining, and increasing commercial air service at the Dubuque Regional Airport, with the additional vision of creating regional economic growth and sustainability through air service development.

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