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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Southwest Iowa airport director: '[SIRA] helps attract and retain businesses that use the airport'

The council invited Sandburg to discuss 2022 highlights regarding the SIRA Authority and the 2023 budget. SIRA serves the cities of Burlington, West Burlington and Des Moines, as well as surrounding areas. While SIRA started 2022 with a new contract, its business partner decided to terminate it only a few months in. Following a tremendous effort, SIRA signed a new contract set to begin in April.

"First off, you know, the partnership between the airport authority and the municipalities is a service that allows us to fulfill the federal obligations that we have to run a safe airport with your support," Sandburg said at the Jan. 4 council meeting. "We all know that the airport provides not only personal but business travel. And obviously, it helps attract and retain businesses that use the airport in the community for economic growth."

The airport saw a large amount of growth in 2022, hitting numbers not seen since before the pandemic. Its new system will retain the goal of overseeing 24 flights per week, with a 14/10 ratio included since most fliers are traveling to Chicago. The new contract also has different requirements for pilots, which is meant to help the SIRA deal with a pilot shortage.

The airport itself has undergone major renovations, with worn-down corporate hangers getting makeovers. Projects for 2023 include a $3 million remodeling of Taxiway B. In addition, SIRA has received $1.74 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which it expects to use for a new community hanger meant to house large jets. SIRA also is considering asking its partner municipalities for financial assistance for the hanger project in the future.

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