Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee Airport Traffic Stagnant

Still down due to pandemic. County budget likely to adjust airport expenditures in 2021.

By - Nov 4th, 2020 09:10 am
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. Image from the airport.

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. Image from the airport.

Passenger activity in and out of Mitchell International Airport remains stagnant after recovering a bit from the initial drop the industry saw when COVID-19 first hit in March.

At the beginning of 2020, the airport looked like it was on track to do better than the previous year. But then the pandemic hit, and air traffic went down quickly, dropping by more than 90%, as people canceled business trips and vacations and stopped buying tickets for future trips.

In the month of September, there were just over 173,000 passengers who went through the airport. Which is down 67% from what the airport saw during the same time last year.

Meanwhile, private air travel continues to gain in popularity. There were approximately 27% more charter flights in Sept. 2020 than in Sept. 2019. Charter flight passenger traffic out of Lawrence J. Timmerman airport is up 20% in 2020, while commercial traffic continues to crater.

In August, several major U.S. carriers announced layoffs in the face of declining air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Southwest Airlines has the largest footprint at Milwaukee. It accounted for 41% of flights out of the airport in September. Its numbers have dropped slightly from what it was seeing in July and August though airport director Brian Dranzik has said the fall is typically a lull in traffic for the airport.

Like many other local government operations, the airport has been kept afloat in 2020 by federal CARES Act dollars. Dranzik has said another stimulus bill could “resolve” the airport’s financial woes.

Expenditures for the airport were reduced in County Executive David Crowley’s 2021 budget because of expectations that airline revenues will not bounce back any time soon.

At the current rate, passenger traffic through the airport for all of 2020 will come in more than one million passengers lower than in 2019.

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Categories: Transportation

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