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Dane Co. Regional Airport breaks ground on expansion project, hopes to rebound from pandemic-era travel

Construction began on the $85 million project at the end of June, with a goal of completing it in two years.
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 8:46 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - This summer, travelers are returning to the skies, many for the first time since the pandemic began.

On Friday, Madison-area couple Ross and Kay Oestreich checked-in to their flight at the Dane Co. Regional Airport, headed for a cruise postponed last June.

“It’s exciting- it’s been a long-time waiting,” Ross Oestreich said.

Over the July 4 holiday weekend (July 3-6), the airport saw a renewed travel rush. The highest volume of passengers came through July 5 at 2,366.

As more people started to pack their bags once again, construction for the airport’s largest single-project expansion began.

Crews broke ground on the $85 million project at the end of June. The airport’s director of marketing and communications, Michael Riechers, said the hope is to take service to new heights as they try and rebound from the pandemic.

“We are fully confident that traffic is going to come back, and this expansion sets us up for growth into the future,” Riechers said.

Riechers said the 90,000-square-foot addition to the south terminal will ultimately add three gates, along with space for a new restaurant, children’s play area and more.

“Those are three more spots for planes to come and pick up and drop off passengers,” Riechers said. “It gives us room for additional airlines that decide to start service in and out of Madison.”

The airport currently has 13 non-stop routes, including recently added Las Vegas and Miami.

“We are engaged with our airline partners to re-establish the routes we lost during the pandemic, so this sets us up to get back to those 24 non-stop routes and eventually go beyond that,” Riechers said.

Riechers noted current travel volumes at the airport are down 50% from the same time in 2019, a year he said brought record numbers.

“We are climbing back up to what was normal in 2019,” he said. “Of course in 2020, we saw a fraction of that.”

He said the entire project should be completed by June of 2023, and construction will not impact flight volumes. The part of the existing gate the airport is expanding will not be demolished until the new structure is built.

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