MILWAUKEE -- General Mitchell International Airport served a record 7,956,968 passengers in 2008, a 3.17 percent gain over 2007's record 7,712,535 passengers. Concluding 17 straight months of record growth, the passenger total for the first eight months of 2008 was up 9.4 percent compared to the same period in 2007, but following flight reductions at Mitchell and airports throughout the U.S., the passenger total for the last four months of 2008 dropped 10 percent.
Airport Director Barry Bateman attributes part of the gain to the increased use of Mitchell by northern Illinois residents and by passengers who are traveling to Chicago from another city. "In 2008, there were 18,000 more cars with Illinois license plates in Mitchell’s parking lots than in 2007," says Bateman. "Our goal is to keep Milwaukee’s airport top of mind among northern Illinois travelers as Chicago’s third airport with the launch of the www.flyMKE.com and www.skymailme.com web sites."
Bateman notes that airfares out of Milwaukee continue to offer a great bargain for both vacationers and business travelers. "For less than $250, passengers who book soon can take a nonstop spring break flight to, for example, Orlando, Phoenix, Denver or New York," he says.
Average airfares out of Mitchell were lower than those at 58 other U.S. airports ($35 lower than O’Hare’s and $25 lower than the national average) in 2Q 08 according to the most currently available U.S. Department of Transportation statistics. "For many Rockford and Lake and McHenry County residents, Mitchell is a closer, faster, easier drive than to the other Chicago airports," says Bateman.
Mitchell has more daily nonstop flights to more cities than the five airports ranked above and below Mitchell in terms of annual passengers.