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Pilot shortage blamed for drop in airline traffic, in La Crosse and elsewhere



The La Crosse Airport usually sees an increase in passenger numbers during May, when the summer travel season begins.  But not this year. 

The local airport had 5700 passengers in May, down about 300 from April, and that seems to be the result of pilot and crew shortages affecting the airline industry. 

Airport director Ian Turner says markets the size of La Crosse will see fewer flights for a while.

The cutback means that for now, La Crosse will have only two flights a day to Chicago on American Airlines, and two Delta flights per day to Minneapolis.

American and Delta both say they’re having trouble hiring pilots and other crew members.  But a major pilots’ union denies such a shortage, and blames “scheduling exuberance” by airlines for a drop in passenger numbers. 

Turner says the airlines will bring bigger planes to La Crosse this summer, to make up for the reduction in flights.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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