Williston Basin International Airport is ready to commence operations in six days, and members of the media were given a behind-the-scenes look at the facility on Thursday, Oct. 3, before the airport is opened up for public viewing.
Williston City Commissioners, joined by Airport Director Anthony Dudas, City Administrator David Tuan, Cardon Global CEO Don Cardon and Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission Kyle Wanner for the media unveiling of the new airport, showing off all the state-of-the-art modern amenities that the new facility has to offer.
“This is probably the most exciting moment that I’ve had in the last 15 years that I’ve been privileged to represent the city of Williston on a lot of different projects,” Mayor Howard Klug told the assembled crowd. “The future of Williston...this is a big part of it.”
Klug, Dudas and others spoke to the crowd, going over some of the history of the project, and some of the difficulties faced in getting the airport off the ground.
The $275 million project faced significant roadblocks along the way, from material shortages to contract disputes to battling the always unpredictable North Dakota weather. But despite those challenges, Dudas said he was excited to finally see the project come to fruition, and was looking forward to moment the first plane lands on Oct. 10.
“It’s just been so amazing to be a part of this experience,” Dudas said.
“There was a lot of challenges, there were days when we were wringing hands and wiping sweat off brows. There were some hard days,” said Airport Commissioner Chris Brostuen. “But with the human spirit that was put into this project, we’re going to make that Oct. 10 deadline and we’re rolling out an asset to the community that I find unbelievable.”
“It’s a big deal,” Wanner said. “The impact (the airport) is going to have today on future generations, it cannot be understated.”
Touted as “The People’s Airport,” the facility features all the amenities one would expect from a large airport in a major city, including expanded check-in stations, and something Williston has never had before, the city’s first escalator, which takes passengers from the check-in area below to the security checkpoints on the second level.
The airport will feature an automated bag screener, another first for Williston, which Dudas said will make security screening more efficient for both passengers and TSA, as agents will no longer need to check each bag by hand.
Passenger bridges will allow travelers to get on and off their flights without having to walk across the concourse, something many passengers will consider a blessing when traveling during North Dakota’s colder months.
The recently installed Refinery Kitchen & Bar sits within the passenger seating area, offering weary travelers a full menu of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And best of all, Dudas shared, one does not need a plane ticket to enjoy the restaurant’s fare.
The upper mezzanine of the terminal will feature seating so that anyone interested can order food through an app on their phone and have it brought to them.
The terminal will host a children’s play area for traveling families with children, which Dudas said should be completed within the next month.
On Friday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m., an official ribbon cutting will be held for the airport, featuring specials guest including Gov. Doug Burgum, Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and others.
A ribbon cutting for the public will be held on Saturday, Oct. 5 during the Community Open House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.