Of all eight Wisconsin airports, none has endured a steeper drop in commercial air travel during the pandemic than the Dane County Regional Airport, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The nonpartisan research institute found that the number of passengers flying through the Madison airport on domestic flights was 39% lower in 2021 than in 2019. That’s compared to the nearly 25% decline seen nationwide and the 33% decline seen at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport.

Those figures come as no surprise to Dane County Regional Airport spokesperson Michael Riechers. While airports across the country saw a “cataclysmic” drop in air travel, Riechers said, his airport was especially vulnerable because about 65% of its passengers travel for business. Conventions and out-of-town meetings canceled in early 2020 have been slow to resume in the two years since, even as leisure travel has boomed.

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