The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission reported that the state’s eight commercial service airports show increasing numbers for passenger boardings, moving away from the record low numbers in recent months.
The commission reported a total of 43,559 passenger boardings for the month of August, which is higher than the statewide volume that has been seen in the last four months, and amounts to a 43 percent retention rate of the passengers that North Dakota experienced during the same month last year.
“When comparing current passenger throughput to pre-pandemic levels, North Dakota’s airline passenger retention is an estimated 14% higher than the national rate.” Kyle Wanner, Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission said in a release. “The higher airline passenger retention in our rural state reflects North Dakota’s resilience and shows the importance that air service has to our communities. Our state’s ongoing recovery in air travel demand also shows that the travelling public is trusting the safety enhancements that our airports and airlines have put into place to accommodate COVID-19 concerns.”
The recovery in passenger volume continues for North Dakota as well as many other airports throughout the country, though the numbers still remain far below pre COVID-19 levels. North Dakota’s airline passenger demand has also been recovering faster than the national average which is currently estimated to be at 29% of pre-pandemic levels.
Williston Basin International Airport has also seen a boost in their passenger boardings, with United Airlines announcing an additional daily flight to Denver beginning in October. Airport Director Anthony Dudas said those increasing boardings helped to gain that additional flight, which he says will be a great benefit to those in our region.
“We’re excited that people are still choosing XWA, and United is seeing that. And that’s attributable to this additional flight in October.” Dudas told the Williston Herald. “As the aviation industry, and the airline industry specifically struggles with the pandemic and trying to schedule service in between those major airports and smaller communities like Williston, there’s less connections that are available on a daily basis. Having more opportunity from Williston in to Denver is going to make traveling more convenient for everyone involved.”
Dudas said that XWA’s August retention was around 83 percent, which he added was significantly higher than the national average. August saw 43,559 passengers boardings at XWA; and while those numbers have increased, they are less than half of the boardings from Aug 2019, which showed 101,784 boardings. Among the state’s eight commercial airports, Williston’s numbers rank 5th, below Fargo, Bismarck, Minot and Grand Forks.