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Despite ending 2008 with a record December, the Quad-City International Airport fell short of landing an annual passenger record, the airport’s aviation director announced Tuesday.

As of year-end, the airport had 481,015 enplaning passengers, which was about 1 percent below the record 484,212 boardings in 2007.

“I can’t be disappointed with that,” Bruce Carter said of just missing last year’s record. “I feel pretty good about it because there are airports across the county reporting some pretty large decreases in enplanements.”

Fortunately, the airport rang out the year with an all-time record December with 38,449 enplanements, or 3,152 more passengers than December 2007, he said  during the Rock Island County Metropolitan Airport Authority’s regular meeting.

 “The weather didn’t cooperate with us over the holidays, but we were fortunate to have less canceled and delayed flights compared to 2007,” Carter said.

Carter said the 9 percent increase in December was positive news after the airline industry was forecasting 20 percent less capacity nationally in the third and fourth quarters. Nationwide, airlines cut flights and shifted smaller planes to markets last fall in response to rising fuel prices. 

The Quad-City airport’s total passengers — enplanements and deplanements — also were down about 1 percent for the year. The airport reported 957,087 total passengers last year, compared with 966,142 in 2007.

“If we’d have had Las Vegas service, we’d have been at an all-time record, and I’m not saying we’re not working on that,” Carter added.

He told the airport authority there have been no new cuts in service announced. United Express is adding a fourth flight to Denver beginning March 1, and Northwest Airlines is resuming a second daily flight to Memphis beginning April 6. 

“We are definitely holding our own and hope that 2009 will continue on a positive trend,” he said, adding that airfares currently are very competitive. 

In other business, the airport authority:

* Approved hiring McGladrey & Pullen to conduct its annual audit at a cost of $30,635. Holly Green, the airport’s finance and administration director, said the cost was up 10 percent from last year due to numerous new required accounting standards.

*  Learned that the airport has two projects it hopes to submit for the federal stimulus package, including a $3.5 million expansion of its snow equipment building and a $4 million runway surfacing project.

Jennifer DeWitt can be contacted at (563) 383-2318 or

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