Mitchell Airport passenger volumes up 85% from February to March

Last updated on May 7th, 2021 at 11:21 am

Passenger volumes at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport are still a long way from pre-pandemic levels, but the number of people going through the airport on a daily basis made a dramatic improvement in March.

Total passenger volume not only crossed 200,000 for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but also topped 300,000.

In total, 335,240 passengers traveled through Mitchell in March, an 85% increase from February and a 7.3% increase from March 2020. Last year, Mitchell’s traffic had started the year slightly up over 2019 until shutdown orders dramatically limited travel.

A comparison to 2019 levels shows just how far air travel has to go to fully return. The airport’s roughly 335,000 passengers in March is still a nearly 50% drop from the almost 664,000 that went through Mitchell in March 2019.

The March data also doesn’t benefit from a flurry of recent service announcements from Mitchell. Spirit Airlines is set start daily flights on June 24, Southwest is adding more stops on April 12 and again on June 12, United will add five summer destinations on May 28, American will resume service to Miami on June 5, JetBlue will start service from Milwaukee in 2022 and Sun Country Airlines will start service from Mitchell on Aug. 26.

Still, March’s performance is a significant improvement from the 182,000 passengers Mitchell averaged over the previous six months.

The growth in traffic was stronger for enplanements, people flying out of Mitchell, than it was for deplanements. Enplanements increased about 26% from March 2020 and around 90% from February. Deplanements, on the other hand, were down 8% from March of last year and up around 79% from February.

The peak travel day in the month was March 27, according to airport officials, so travelers leaving for spring break trips likely did not return until April, which helps to account for the discrepancy in arrivals and departures.

Southwest Airlines accounted for a significant portion of the passenger growth from February, adding 89,626 total passengers for an increase of 109%. Frontier also more than doubled its February traffic, adding 19,428 passengers for a 129% increase.

Southwest saw its share of total passengers at the airport jump nearly 6 percentage points to 51.4%. Frontier was up 2 points to 10.3%.

American and Delta both saw strong passenger total increases, up 64% and 48% respectively, but their share was down 1.6 points and 2.5 points compared to February.

United was up about 33% and its share decreased 3.4 points.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He spent also 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.

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