Local airport sees slight passenger increase in recent weeks

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU)-- La Crosse Regional Airport lost 95 percent of its business in the month of April.

However, with travel restrictions loosening and it being Memorial Day Weekend, the airport says it expects a slight increase in travelers.

"Friday morning we saw slightly higher numbers than in the past two weeks, so yes we are a little bit busier than we have been," said Ian Turner, the La Crosse Regional Airport director.

That increase is still down about 85 percent when compared to the same time last year.

The airport usually sees six to seven flights each day with 350 seats available.

Currently there are just two flights daily that are carrying around 50 passengers total.

The airport is cleaning more frequently at busy times, placing sanitizer throughout the building, and providing masks to employees.

"A number of our tenants have taken additional steps for those who have more interactions with passengers and the public," Turner said. "Both of our airlines will be installing dividers at the ticket counter as well as at the gate."

TSA announced new changes including reduced security lanes, officers wearing masks and gloves, and plastic shielding.

"A number of passengers have inquired on whether or not things are slowing down at airports because of these steps the airlines, airports, and TSA are taking and really the answer is no," Turner said. "Things are moving just as smoothly as normal, but be aware of what you can and cannot take in carry-on luggage in security checkpoint."

TSA is no longer going through passengers items, so if an item needs to be removed the traveler will have to re-enter the security line.

As a result of the pandemic, the airport will be receiving $1.8 million dollars in stimulus funding.

"We are financially sound," Turner said. "The CARES act will allow us to come out on the back side."

While the airport is doing its part to keep everything clean and travelers safe, it still recommends passengers practice social distancing and good hygiene.