As travel industry rebounds, Dane County Regional offers a fraction of its pre-pandemic nonstop routes

Dane County Regional Airport announces five new non-stop destinations
Courtesy of Dane County Regional Airport

MADISON, Wis.– Summer travel reached record levels in 2021, topping not only last summer, but pre-pandemic numbers from 2019. Hotels, restaurants, and other tourist-dependent businesses benefitted greatly, but one segment of the travel industry continues to struggle: air travel.

“Airports and airlines are still lingering behind,” explained Nick Jarmusz, AAA spokesman. “There’s still a bit of hesitancy for people getting in planes.”

Recovery is slow at airports nationwide, and Dane County Regional is no exception. The recent addition of Miami and Las Vegas brings the airport’s nonstop flight count to 15. But that’s down from the 24 it offered pre-pandemic. Airport spokesman Michael Riechers says it may take years for more to return.

RELATED: Will Labor Day travel cause a surge in COVID cases? How soon we could know.

Meanwhile, many Wisconsinites are choosing to drive. In May, Jarmusz declared 2021 ‘the year of the road trip,’ and he was right. According to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, trips of two nights or more are up 5%, compared to April 2019.

“Our bookings are the highest they’ve ever been for hotels and rental cars,” said Jarmusz.

But travelers should be warned: if you’re planning a trip this fall, you’ll want to do your research first. Many states, counties, and/or cities are reimplementing mask mandates and capacity limits.

Click here to view the latest health guidelines in the city you’re visiting.