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Cars pull up to pick up passengers arriving from Detroit at the Quad-City International Airport in Moline in October. Passenger traffic was down 7 percent in 2017, Aviation Director Bruce Carter told the Rock Island County Metropolitan Airport Authority on Tuesday.

The Quad-City International Airport wrapped up 2017 with a 7 percent decline in its passenger numbers.

Bruce Carter, the airport's aviation director, told the Rock Island County Metropolitan Airport Authority at its meeting Tuesday that the airport posted 333,975 enplanements, or boardings, for the year. That compares with 359,451 enplanements in 2016 at the airport in Moline.

"It's a little better than we expected," Carter said. "We were down 10 percent for the first three quarters of the year and then we were up in October, November, and December was break-even." 

The monthly statistics also showed the month of December saw 25,897 enplanements vs. 25,977 in December 2016. The month's total passengers, which include enplanements and deplanements, also were flat at 50,807.

For the year, total passengers also were down 7 percent, ending the year at 665,691. That compared with 716,872 total passengers in 2016.

The airport's passengers have been on a downward trend over the past five years, losing nearly 50,000 passengers in that time. In 2013, the airport ended the year with 383,027 enplanements vs. 333,975 in 2017.

The airport has been challenged by a leakage of airline passengers to the Chicago market. It also is feeling the impacts of issues facing the entire regional airport industry including a shift away from the smaller regional jets to larger jets and a looming pilot shortage.

"We're never pleased when it goes down," Carter said of the year's results. "But we're optimistic for 2018."

He said early predictions call for the year to start flat. He added there are no air service changes in the near future.

Two airlines reported increases in December: Allegiant was up 11 percent to 6,079 passengers and American Eagle/Envoy was up 9 percent to 7,118. Delta Airlines saw an 8 percent decrease to 7,789 in the month. United Express was down 11 percent to 4,911 in December.

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