The La Crosse Regional Airport was seeing its highest winter passenger numbers in five years last January and February.
Then the pandemic struck, and airline travel dwindled to bare-bones levels by April.
Passenger volume in La Crosse was down 54 percent in 2020, but ridership numbers have returned to about half of normal levels.
Airport director Ian Turner is hopeful about seeing the numbers rise this year.
“I do anticipate that these numbers will rise as widespread vaccine becomes the norm,” Turner told the city aviation board Tuesday. “When that happens, your guess is as good as mine.”
Turner is working with the car rental companies operating at the airport, to help them get compensation for the business they’ve lost because of COVID-19.
Ridership numbers dropped 54 percent from the previous year, with only 44,000 people taking commercial flights through La Crosse last year, a number they normally reach during the summer.
Turner says the parking revenue feel 56 percent, roughly $400,000.
Over 7,600 passengers took airline flights through La Crosse last January — usually one of the slowest travel months of the year. That month turned out to be the local airport’s best of 2020, because business dropped sharply after COVID-19 hit in March, and the airline industry is still recovering.