MILWAUKEE – Data shows more people are flying again from Wisconsin’s busiest airport after seeing a significant drop in passenger numbers in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Passenger traffic at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport nearly doubled in 2021 compared to 2020. Between January 1 and November 30, 2021, more than four million people took off or landed at Milwauke Airport, compared to just over 2.5 million over the same period in 2020. The airport has yet to release passenger statistics for December 2021.
Although it is still well below pre-pandemic passenger volumes of nearly 7 million passengers per year, it is a sign that things are picking up.
For many, this is the first time they have taken a plane since the start of the pandemic.
At the airport on Monday, Nikki Masalanka was traveling for work for the first time in nearly two years. Masalanka is a healthcare IT consultant, and she said it was nice to see her colleagues in person.
“I think sometimes, especially where we work, it helps you read the play better, make better connections than on a computer,” Masalanka said, before boarding a flight to Philadelphia.
Milwaukee Mitchell Airport was successful in 2021 in attracting new carriers and additional non-stop service to the airport. The year brought the addition of Spirit Airlines, Contour Airlines and Sun Country. Jet Blue is expected to start offering service to New York and Boston in March 2022. The extra service is something that can make a big difference in getting people to use the airport.
Sara Nowacki is a travel agent and owner of Platinum Travel in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She said the vast majority of her customers preferred to travel from Mitchell rather than O’Hare, but in the past, the lack of direct flights often prevented her from doing so.
Nowacki said he saw the recent change and knows what customers want.
“I have a lot of customers who will only fly to places where it’s nonstop, they don’t want to stop, so having more options gives them more places to go,” Nowacki said.
Several existing carriers, such as United Airlines, have also added a new destination in 2021, many of which are tourist destinations.