Brian Dranzik on Mitchell Airport’s international travel future and new carriers, flights | Ep. 86

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Milwaukee Mitchell Airport director Brian Dranzik joins BizTimes editor Andrew Weiland to discuss the airport’s rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, the addition of new flights and carriers, the potential for more international travel, and the latest on efforts to relaunch Midwest Express.

Here are some highlights from their conversation:

On the addition of new destinations like Destin, Savannah, Charleston and Portland, Maine:

Weiland: “I don’t recall Milwaukee ever offering service to destinations like that, am I right?”

Dranzik: “Yeah, that’s correct. That’s something that was new. They again were just looking at where they could potentially put flights and see how it went. In some cases I think it might have been a little bit experimental, we’ll see how it goes. It created some unique possibilities for the airlines to look at doing something like that. … We’ll see how it turned out in our conversations with the airlines, we’ll see if they think about bringing service like that back.”

On the potential of a flight from Milwaukee to Europe:

Dranzik: “We’ve had conversations over time with different carriers about that. It really just takes people from our area making that commitment, so it is a little bit of a chicken and egg thing. We feel if and when we get that first flight to a European destination that will open the eyes of a lot of carriers to a lot the possibilities. It’s something we work on and hopefully in the future, post-pandemic, we’ll be successful at some point.

On the status of the international terminal on the E Concourse:

Dranzik: “That’s a bit of a casualty from the COVID experience that we’ve been going through the past year and a half, almost two years. Those revenues to support that project come from passenger facility charges and concession revenues basically, so as those have gone down, we’ve had to push the project back. We’re confident that we have a good plan that can get into construction, we’re just monitoring the cash flows and determining when the time is right to restart that project. It’s probably going to be another year or two before we can get that off the ground. We would have basically, I think, completed that project this year had we been on schedule.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.