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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The Dane County Regional Airport had usage growth for the fourth consecutive year in 2017. 

The Dane County Regional Airport had usage growth for the fourth consecutive year in 2017. 

Dane County airport sees fourth consecutive year of growth in 2017

Dane County Regional Airport announced Tuesday that 2017 was a record-breaking year for passenger traffic, with almost 2 million passengers served as the facility attempts to stake its claim as a transportation hub in the Midwest.

This marks a fourth straight year of new highs for the airport, which logged just over 1,900,000 passengers in 2017, a three percent growth over 2016. Dane County Regional Airport Marketing and Communications Director Brent McHenry said while the growth is “very hard to forecast,” this year exceeded expectations.

The airport has recently worked to expand operations, including the addition of non-stop service to Las Vegas in 2017 and upcoming service to San Francisco and Philadelphia in 2018. The airport is also preparing to undergo a $25 million renovation with the intent of modernizing its terminal.

The expansion of the airport parallels the growth that Madison-area businesses have seen in recent years. McHenry estimates that 50-60 percent of airport travelers use the airport for business trips. Estimates on student travel are currently unavailable, but the airport has plans to work with a marketing agency on campus to poll the student body about its airport usage.

The airport itself accounts for a large part of the local economy. According to McHenry, the airport contributes $700 million to the local economy, with $300 million in visitor spending, $200 million in local worker wages, and $200 million in tax revenue.

The airport also creates 6,500 jobs as a direct result of airport functions, and an additional 3,200 jobs from secondary relationships like supply functions.

Airport officials argue the facility’s growth shows the need for the terminal renovation project, which is anticipated to take three years to complete. The airport last underwent renovations in 2006, but passenger traffic has grown tremendously in the years since, making it harder for the facilities to accommodate almost 2 million passengers a year.

The renovations include plans to make the gates more accessible to the larger planes that are now being used.

Airport officials are now looking to expand service to more cities, including Boston, Houston, Phoenix, and Seattle, although McHenry says this is reliant on the airlines operating out of Madison.

“We’re continually working with them to impress upon them the importance of Madison and the routes we need and want but ultimately it’s up to them,” he said.

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