La Crosse Regional Airport air traffic plunged 95 percent in April, director says

Both American Eagle and Delta airlines are operating one flight per day

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Airports around the country, including La Crosse’s, are taking some of the hardest hits in the wake of the pandemic.

Leaders at the La Crosse Regional Airport say air traffic plunged 95 percent during the month of April.

The beginning of 2020 showed promise for the La Crosse Regional Airport.

“January and February were very good months year after year,” airport director Ian Turner said. “I think we had a number of our revenue streams 20 percent to 25 percent increases.”

But in March and April, the pandemic sent airport revenues crashing down.

“It disappeared within the first 2 to 3 weeks,” Turner said.

Turner says the airport lost 375 total passengers throughout April in addition to a 95 percent drop in air traffic.

“The La Crosse Regional Airport has very closely mirrored the drop in air travel across the country,” Turner said. “Both the airlines, American and Delta, are operating one flight a day. And then Tuesdays, there are no flights.”

However, air traffic is slowly trending upward.

“The good news, though, is in the last two weeks, we’ve seen those passenger numbers start to climb,” Turner said.

Turner says Monday, May 18 was the airport’s best day since March 12, which was the day after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

“Each of our aircraft were at least 50 percent full of the seats that the airlines are selling,” Turner said.

This comes as Delta Airlines will not allow more than 60 percent passengers for any of its flights through July.

Turner says the airport will probably not break even for the rest of the year, but there is a silver lining.

“Thankfully, we have our CARES ACT funding, as well as a decent fund balance of reserve money that will support us through this really bad economic time for air travel,” Turner said.

For now, Turner is optimisitic the airport will eventually get back to where it once was, but that time frame remains uncertain.

“As I’m sure with everyone else you’re talking to, it’s a matter of when that point is,” Turner said.

Turner also says the airport has not had to furlough any workers, and he expects there will be more flights next month.