LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Big changes are happening at La Crosse Regional Airport. Once an expansion project is completed, bigger planes will be able to land more frequently with the hope of offering flights to more destinations.
Right now, people can fly to Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit on commercial planes. But with this expansion, the hope is that more people will be able to fly to other destinations.
At the beginning of the summer, crews began to expand the apron, an area where the plane stops so the passengers can get onto the jet bridge.
"In general, the industry is moving towards going away from the smaller regional jets and they're trying to up-gauge their fleet to larger aircraft," said Miranda TerBeest, marketing and communications manager for La Crosse Regional Airport.
A larger apron means bigger planes could land. This would allow multiple planes to be at the gates at the same time. It would also mean more passengers could get on the flight and that the plane could travel farther distances.
"If we're able to add on more flight options to distances that are farther away than the Midwest then we would need to be able to accommodate larger aircrafts," TerBeest said.
The project is being funded through state and federal grants, according to TerBeest.
In March, the airport started offering a new option to fly to Detroit. TerBeest said that has gone over well so far.
"The better our current flights, the more we can increase the capacity, the more it drives down the price, which makes it a lot easier for passengers using the airport," TerBeest said.
This is happening as the city is looking for a new executive director for the airport. An interim director was named in April, after the former director, Clint Torp, accepted a position at the Des Moines International Airport.
"So many things have been put in place over the last five to 10 years that have really set the airport up to be extremely successful," TerBeest said.
While she couldn't comment on how the search is going, TerBeest said the airport is excited to welcome a new leader to build on that success.
"And really help them to keep us growing and to keep the airport going strong," TerBeest said.
The apron expansion project is expected to be completed by mid-August. Airport staff said that, while a gate may be closed at certain times because of construction, they have been able to get around it so travel has not been affected.
The airport is also building a car wash for public use in its parking lot area. That is still under construction, as well.
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