Dane County Regional Airport says shortages holding back the airport’s growth

The number of travelers in airports across the country continues to grow following the 2020 slump at the start of the pandemic, returning to pre-pandemic form a
Updated: Jul. 4, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The number of travelers in airports across the country continues to grow following the 2020 slump at the start of the pandemic, returning to pre-pandemic form ahead of the 4th of July holiday weekend.

On Friday, the TSA says it checked over 2.4 million people, the highest single-day total since February of 2020. It is an exclamation mark following growth throughout the first half of 2022. According to TSA checkpoint travel numbers, every day of 2022 recorded higher check numbers than in 2021. Dane County Regional Airport communications director Michael Riechers says that growth is coming to land in Madison.

“It’s coming back steadily, which is exciting to see; it’s not just spikes and valleys it’s a slow and steady rise in travel,” said Riechers. “We’re about 2017, 2018 travel numbers in terms of pre-pandemic numbers, to put that in perspective, 2019 was a record-setting year.”

Unfortunately, shortages for airlines are holding back growth for the airport. Things like pilot and airplane shortages are impacting flight numbers, in turn impacting the Dane County Regional Airport.

“We would’ve anticipated to see our network grow out of madison, and by that I mean, more flights, more frequency things like that, that growth has been limited due to the limitations in the airline industry,” said Riechers. “All these destinations we had before the pandemic, they just don’t have the supply of pilots or planes right now.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported over 3,200 fewer pilots in 2021 compared to 2019. Riechers is optimistic supply can reach demand once again, fueling a terminal expansion at the airport, which will take roughly a year to complete.

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