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Episode 2: Growth Takes Off at Des Moines International Airport

Episode 2: Des Moines International Airport

December 5, 2019

Kevin Foley, Executive Director & General Manager of the Des Moines International Airport, Kayla Kovarna, communications, marketing and air service development manager at the airport  and Tom Mahoney, Board Chair of ITA Group, spoke with the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Chief Strategy Officer Tiffany Tauscheck about the continued growth of the airport, as well as the efforts to build a new terminal.

As one of The Partnership’s Strategic Priorities for 2019, Des Moines International Airport’s new terminal is an essential part of ongoing growth within the region. With an average of 5% passenger growth per year since 2009, keeping pace with the growth is vital to the airport’s success.

With the recent announcement from Allegiant Airlines and two more airplanes flying each morning — or 300 people per day — growth will only continue. Southwest announced service to Denver, beginning in March, Delta is upgrading planes to accommodate for more passengers per plane and American Airlines has announced direct flights to Miami.

As more air carriers see Greater Des Moines (DSM) as a development opportunity, they’re choosing to bring more planes here because they know the community will fill them.

Mahoney says that an airport is the economic engine of a community. Organizations are all over the country and the world. Businesses need their team members to be able to travel with ease. On the leisure side, people want experiences. Those experiences come with travel. If you don’t have flight times, costs, etc. in the right place, Foley explains that it will affect where people want to locate.

Attraction + Retention of Top Talent

The recruitment and retention of top talent is the number one priority of employers within DSM, Mahoney says. Creating a modern and efficient airport so that millennials can experience life is of the utmost importance. By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials, who travel more than any other generation. If companies want to retain those workers and ensure they stay productive, having an airport that allows them to travel easily is crucial.

Kovarna added that more air service and nonstop routes allow visitors who have a four-day weekend to say, “let’s go to Des Moines.”

Maximizing Your Time

When you leave DSM, you want to go as early as possible versus spending your day traveling. Mahoney says the flight patterns here allow passengers to maximize their experiences. DSM was known as the flyover state because you couldn’t get a direct flight. You’d have to go through Minneapolis, Chicago, etc. and deal with delays. Just 10 years ago, there were 16 direct flights, now there are 21 and counting. This is an integral part of growth.

Airport Growth

Foley explains that it’s up to the DSM International Airport team to stay ahead of the growth. The Des Moines International Airport has 12 gates today. In 2014, after taking a look at the terminal plan, it came out that a new terminal was needed. Phase I would be 14 gates. Phase II would add four more gates. Foley says they’ve blown by Phase I and are already into Phase II due to the constant growth.

Mahoney adds that right now airlines are willing to invest and DSM has the momentum to grow further. If a business continues to grow, you can’t rely on old infrastructure and that now is the time to reinvest in the airport.

Listen to the entire podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/627622/2229896-episode-2-des-moines-international-airport-with-kevin-foley-kayla-kovarna-and-tom-mahoney.