Friday, February 16, 2018

La Crosse Regional Airport (KLSE) volume, revenue stable in 2017

La Crosse Regional Airport director Clint Torp

The La Crosse Regional Airport served slightly fewer passengers in 2017 without a loss in revenue.

Nearly 177,500 passengers flew in and out of the airport on commercial flights, about 1.1 percent fewer than the previous year, according to the airport's annual report.

There was a 2 percent drop in arrivals, while the number of departures was essentially the same as in 2016.

The report is scheduled to be presented to the Aviation Board on Monday.

Airport Manager Clint Torp said he expects passenger volumes to grow in 2018 as a result of American Airlines using larger airplanes for two of its three daily flights, which translates to 26 more seats per day.

"Now that we have the larger American aircraft we'll hope for an increase," he said.

The airport is also pursuing a federal funds to help land new eastbound service. The Small Community Air Service Development Program subsidizes domestic airline service to under-served airports for up to three years.

"It definitely helps," Torp said. "Anytime you can reduce the risk it makes your market more attractive."

Torp is hoping to add service to Detroit, which Delta Airlines discontinued in 2013.

Minneapolis and Chicago are now the only destinations with service from La Crosse, but Torp said the volume of passengers heading to Washington, D.C., and New York suggest there is enough demand to support service to a third eastern hub.

This year the airport plans to add canopies and new ticket kiosks to the parking lot as part of an effort to improve amenities and "to make flying out of lax second to none" in order to maintain passenger volume.

"When we bring (new planes) in, we have to work on filling them. Otherwise they go away," Torp said.

The airport brought in about $2.7 million -- up $5,000 from the previous year. The airport brought in more money from car rentals and general aviation services. There was also a bump in restaurant and gift store sales, while parking revenue and fuel volumes were down.

Total operations -- landings and takeoffs of commercial, civilian and military planes -- at all Wisconsin airports was down about 2.1 percent in 2017, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.

Commercial operations were up about a half percent statewide. La Crosse was one of four Wisconsin airports to see a drop in commercial operations, which were down 6.6 percent.

With roughly the same number of passengers traveling on fewer flights, airlines filled nearly 83 percent of their seats, slightly higher than the previous year. That number has climbed steadily since 2002, when airlines filled just over half the seats on their flights in and out of La Crosse, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

"Fuller aircraft is the trend definitely across the nation," Torp said.

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