Mid-America Airport finds new success as cargo station

MASCOUTAH, IL (KTVI) – Once called the “White Elephant” and “Gateway to Nowhere,” Mid-America Airport in Mascoutah is making a new name for itself, with 200,000 customers and increased revenue.

While you’re sleeping, one of the world’s largest cargo planes has been making stops at Mid-America Airport. The facility is starting to cash in on cargo.

“We had the N-124 here from Volga-Dnepr (Airlines). They came by flying a unique air cargo, saying we have a pickup from Perryville. A saberliner for helicopter and this helicopter needs to go to Jordan, but the airplanes coming out of Afghanistan. Can you host that? Yes, we can,” said Tim Cantwell, director of Mid-America Airport.

Mid-America is a joint-use airport with Scott Air Force Base and owns all its own equipment, which provides a lot of benefits for businesses.

“An international operator can walk in and ask what rates and charges are there, times that we’re open, can you get me through customs, tower times, where can I park; we’re a one stop shop,” Cantwell said.

A customer like Volga-Dnepr Airlines doesn’t have to speak with five different companies—just one—to get its work done, which makes Mid-America Airport appealing.

“I’m still in conversations with Volga-Dnepr for more flights and they’re talking to other people about opportunities they have and experiences they had here,” Cantwell said.

Servicing Volga-Dnepr has given Mid-America a worldwide name. Cantwell said they’re busier than ever and lots of calls are coming in.

“Mid-America is a great place to come,” said Colon Miller, a spokesman for Volga-Dnepr. “It’s wide open. There is good ramp space. Great place to operate airplanes.”

Cantwell said the international cargo market is untapped and could be huge for Mid-America. At the moment, Mid-America is just above zero on operating costs. The goal is start paying down its bond debt.

“We’re still in a help mode on that, but we’re rising every year over the operating budget,” he said.

The top 20 to 30 airports in the nation make money. Everybody else gets some kind of support or they have lower business models. Mid-America is excited because they’re riding a wave.

“2016 was better than 2015, which was better than ‘14, and 2017 is going to be great,” Cantwell said.

The airport now has eight destinations, with 25 flights a week, and 6,000 people coming through the airport.