Graham Kilmer

Air Traffic Returning to Milwaukee

After falling off a cliff in April, airport traffic starts to rebound. Private charter plane trips up 16%.

By - Sep 1st, 2020 10:04 am
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. Image from the airport.

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. Image from the airport.

Passenger traffic through Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is steadily coming back after falling off a cliff in April, but it remains 58 percent behind 2019 traffic.

In July, nearly 176,000 passengers passed through. That number is down approximately 72 percent from July 2019.

But this was an improvement upon the previous month. June saw more than 133,000 airline passengers use the airport. Both months, too, were a great improvement upon the massive hit the airport took at the beginning of the pandemic when air traffic dropped 90 percent.

In the first two months of 2020, the airport saw more passengers than it did at the beginning of 2019. However, in March, air traffic took a nose-dive as people canceled business trips, vacations and generally stayed put to avoid catching COVID-19.

In March 2019, the airport had more than 663,000 passengers. In March 2020, when the pandemic began to hit, that dropped to approximately 312,400 passengers. By the next month, April, the airport had just 23,700 passengers.

Southwest Airlines still maintains the largest footprint at the airport. In July, the airline accounted for nearly half of all passengers that used the airport, 84,120. The month prior, it had 71,491 passengers, which was 53 percent of all passengers.

Air traffic is slowly bouncing back. But airlines are still hurting. In July 2019, flights out of the airport were using approximately 87 percent of their available seats. This past July, they used 50 percent.

Two major carriers have announced massive layoffs. American Airlines announced 19,000 layoffs or involuntary furloughs by October. And Delta announced it would lay off 2,000 pilots.

As with passenger traffic, air mail is also down. Compared to 2019, air mail was down 67 percent in July. Air Freight, though, was up approximately 3 percent in July compared to 2019. However, the numbers for air freight were only a slight improvement from the numbers in June.

Private Air Travel Up

Meanwhile, wealthy air travelers appear to be opting more for private charter air travel. Lawrence Timmerman airport, which receives private air passengers has seen more passengers so far this year than it did at this time last year.

In July, the airport’s passenger traffic was up approximately 15 percent compared to 2019. And it’s up nearly 16 percent for the year-to-date compared to 2019.

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