University of Illinois
|Operator||University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign|
|Serves||Champaign–Urbana metropolitan area|
|Location||Tolono Township, Illinois|
|Elevation AMSL||754 ft / 230 m|
Location of Champaign County in Illinois
Location of airport in Champaign County
University of Illinois Willard Airport (IATA: CMI, ICAO: KCMI, FAA LID: CMI) is south of Savoy in Tolono Township, Champaign County, Illinois. It is owned and operated by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and is named for former University of Illinois president Arthur Cutts Willard.
The airport was dedicated on 26 October 1945. Airline flights began in 1954. The terminal building built in 1960 was used until the present terminal was completed in 1987. By 1969 Willard was the second-busiest airport in the state of Illinois. After the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 many airlines found service to small airports to be inefficient, the price differential to airfares from major hub airports such as Chicago O'Hare grew, which limited demand for tickets from Willard and caused airlines to leave.
Until 2014, the airport was home to the University of Illinois Institute of Aviation, a research and pilot training facility. The university trustees voted to shutter the institute in 2011 while allowing enrolled students to complete their studies. In 2013, the university agreed to transfer the pilot training function of the institute to Parkland College, a local community college. The university continues to operate the airport and provides an annual subsidy of $433,000 for its operations.
Traffic at Willard airport declined significantly from 2005 to 2013. According to FAA published data, in CY2013 there were 84,853 passenger enplanements compared to 132,077 in 2005. Overall traffic also declined to 54,653 total Combined TRACON / Tower operations in CY 2013 compared to 123,341 in CY2005.
The airport has had various problems with delays recently. In 2013, the airport ranked 285th out of 320 airports for on-time performance according to government statistics and was ranked 251st out of 324 airports for the first 11 months of 2014.
The airport gained some notoriety for a January 21, 1998, incident in which Air Force One became stuck in mud, requiring a backup aircraft to transport President Bill Clinton from a speaking engagement at the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall. The pilot opted to enter the main taxiway from the ramp using a feeder taxiway with an unusually large angle. Due to the wide turn, the right main gear left the taxiway and slipped into the soft turf, causing the aircraft to be lodged in the mud. The Air Force dispatched backup aircraft SAM26000, which first entered service during the Kennedy Administration and would be retired later in 1998.
Willard Airport covers 1,799 acres (728 ha) and has three runways:
The terminal has five gates.
|American Eagle||Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth|
American Eagle has two daily flights (one on Saturdays) to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on 50-seat ERJs, four daily (three on Saturdays) ERJ flights to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and twice daily non-stop to Charlotte Douglas International Airport on ERJ 140s.
Delta Air Lines dropped Willard Airport on August 31, 2010. Vision Airlines also ceased service to Willard Airport on January 6, 2012 after three weeks of service. United Airlines as well ceased service to Willard Airport on September 5, 2018 after a year of service.
Four car rental agencies have offices in the terminal building. The airport is reached from U.S. Route 45, five miles south of downtown Champaign. The nearest expressway exit is Exit 229 (Monticello Road) on Interstate 57, about a four-mile drive from the terminal. Parking facilities include a paid parking lot, rental car parking lot, and curbside loading zone.
In 2016, the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation commissioned an Economic Impact Report with support from community sponsors. The report found that the airport had a total of $74,325,994 annual economic impact and a $204,000 daily impact within Champaign County. The 23,266 visitors coming to the area each year because of the airport helped created 112.8 jobs locally. Further, the airport was found to generate $10.2 million in annual tax receipts, $2.3 million in annual local taxes. More than $800,000 of these local tax dollars goes to local schools.