After nearly two weeks of flights, the Central Nebraska Regional Airport’s new terminal got an official ribbon cutting.
“Very emotional today, I am. It’s a validation that we’re doing the right thing,” said Mike Olson, airport director.
Olson didn’t say much about his new terminal. He says it speaks for itself, and the business leaders who turned out to a ribbon cutting Tuesday say they hear the message loud and clear.
“This is a community that has a lot going on. This is a community that invests in itself and invests in its people. It invests in its infrastructure and we’re committed to Grand Island. This facility says that without saying a word,” said G.I. Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Johnson.
Johnson said it also says “bring your business here” – something that was harder when the airport had no flights less than a decade ago.
“It’s a huge impediment to a company to not have air service,” said Johnson. “If a corporate executive can fly out of Grand Island and not have to drive two hours to Omaha or four hours to Kansas City, it makes a big difference on their productivity.”
“This community could have called for my job because things were that bad, but look where we are today,” said Olson.
As for the future of the airport: “That depends how much support we get. I can’t write the future. The public support writes the future for this airport,” said Olson.
But, Olson said he believes this terminal will attract more fliers, adding to an already growing number of customers.
“Where we are so far year to date compared to where we were last year to date, we’re up close to 20 percent. The national average is about 5 percent,” he said.
“People that are coming to Grand Island to tour a Case IH or to meet with leaders at Chief or Global, they fly into this terminal. They fly into the Central Nebraska Regional Airport. Imagine what this says to them,” said Johnson.