University of Illinois Willard Airport

University of Illinois
Willard Airport
Airport type Public
Operator University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Serves Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
Location Tolono Township, Illinois
Elevation AMSL 754 ft / 230 m
Coordinates 40°02′21″N 88°16′41″W / 40.03917°N 88.27806°W / 40.03917; -88.27806Coordinates: 40°02′21″N 88°16′41″W / 40.03917°N 88.27806°W / 40.03917; -88.27806

Location of Champaign County in Illinois

Location of airport in Champaign County

Direction Length Surface
ft m
4/22 6,501 1,981 Concrete
14L/32R 8,102 2,469 Concrete
14R/32L 3,817 1,163 Asphalt

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.[2] The terminal building built in 1960[3] was used until the present terminal was completed in 1987.[4] By 1969 Willard was the second-busiest airport in the state of Illinois.[3] 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.[5] The university continues to operate the airport and provides an annual subsidy of $433,000 for its operations.[6]

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.[7] Overall traffic also declined to 54,653 total Combined TRACON / Tower operations in CY 2013 compared to 123,341 in CY2005.[8]

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.[9]

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 taxiways were not designed for aircraft as wide as the President's Boeing 707, which "nicked" the edge of the taxiway and became lodged in mud. The Air Force dispatched backup aircraft SAM26000, which first entered service during the Kennedy Administration and would be retired later in 1998.[10]


Willard Airport covers 1,799 acres (728 ha) and has three runways:

The terminal has five gates.

Airlines and destinations

Airline destinations from Willard Airport
Terminal building at Willard Airport
American Eagle Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth

American Eagle has one daily flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on 50-seat ERJs, and six daily (five on weekends) ERJ flights to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Delta Air Lines dropped Willard Airport on August 31, 2010.[11] Vision Airlines also ceased service to Willard Airport on January 6, 2012 after 3 weeks of service.[12]

Ground transportation

Four car rental agencies have offices in the terminal building.[9] 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 a curbside loading zone.[13]


  1. FAA Airport Master Record for CMI (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration.
  2. "Airport History". University of Illinois Willard Airport.
  3. 1 2 Urbana Courier clipping file
  4. University Office for Facilities Planning and Programs: Willard Airport
  5. Des Garennes, Christine (2013-09-18). "Parkland OKs aviation agreement with UI". The News Gazette. Archived from the original on 2015-04-19. Retrieved 2015-04-19.
  6. Wurth, Julie (2014-12-05). "Willard Airport task force's plan on way to Wise". The News Gazette. Archived from the original on 2015-04-19. Retrieved 2015-04-19.
  7. "Passenger Boarding (Enplanement) and All-Cargo Data for U.S. Airports". June 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  8. "Air Traffic Activity System (ATADS) > Airport Operations". Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  9. 1 2 Liu, Lucy; Holly, Robert (2015-01-23). "Delays, Cancellations Plague Willard". The News Gazette. Archived from the original on 2015-04-19. Retrieved 2015-04-19.
  10. "President's Plane Gets Stuck In The Mud". AllPolitics. January 28, 1998.
  11. Dodson, Don (June 30, 2010). "Delta to end service at Willard on Aug. 31". The News-Gazette.
  13. "Parking". University of Illinois Willard Airport.
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