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La Crosse Airport maintains commercial flights amid shortages and cutbacks in travel industry



Shortages of pilots and other airline workers are continuing to make travel more complicated for many customers. 

The La Crosse Regional Airport currently has daily service to and from Chicago and Minneapolis, but Detroit service has been cut back.  La Crosse airport director Ian Turner says getting from here to Detroit now takes an extra step.

“It does not eliminate passengers’ abilities to get where they need to go,” Turner tells a WIZM podcast. “It just may take a little bit longer. Somebody flying to Detroit to get to the East Coast can still do that, but now they have to go through Minneapolis and then Detroit, so it’s a little bit inconvenient, the connections may not be there, but you still have that possibility.”

Turner says experts don’t know when the current pilot shortages might end.  He says La Crosse continues to benefit from military-related travel, by being just 30 miles from Fort McCoy.

After bouncing back in 2021 from a large COVID-related drop in air travel, the La Crosse Airport saw passenger levels go down again in 2022, by more than 20 per cent, from 81-thousand passengers in ’21 to 63-thousand last year.  

Turner says airlines are cutting service in cities around the region, and older pilots are retiring faster than new ones can be hired.

“There are more pilots retiring for the projected five, six, seven, eight years than new pilots entering the workforce,” Turner says. He says the same thing is happening at Central Wisconsin Airport and Duluth, and Dubuque no longer has commercial airline service.

LSE continues to offer daily flights on American and Delta, connecting to Minneapolis and Chicago.

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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