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Regional jet service use picking up

Though it had been offering flights from the two major airlines since early June, Friday marked the official kickoff of regional jet service to and from Dickinson by Delta and United Airlines.

As people streamed into and about the bustling Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport commercial terminal, airport manager Matthew Remynse presided over an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony for each of the airlines.

"It's been a long road to get to where we are today," Remynse said. "We're excited about where we are. The air service we added recently is just taking off and it's nice to see United and Delta doing so well here."

Though he said total flight data was not available Friday, Remynse said the airport has been a busy place and will likely continue to be.

"I haven't seen any hard numbers yet," Remynse said. "But, from what they tell me, Delta doesn't have a flight next week below 37 passengers and United doesn't have a flight below 43 passengers. That's over a 50 percent load factor for those aircraft and that's excellent news."

The regional jets, which have a capacity of 50 passengers, travel to and from Denver and Minneapolis, with United flying to Colorado and Delta to North Dakota's neighbor to the east.

At the airport Friday to drop off his daughter, Kylee, for a flight, Dickinson resident Brent Brown said the jet service is an important step for the busy southwest North Dakota city at the southern edge of the Bakken energy play.

"I think it's a big plus for Dickinson to have this type of service," said Brent, who works in the oil field and has had to fly for business. "There are a lot of people nowadays that fly in and out of Dickinson and it's great to have this type of service here."

United airport transformation manager Debbie DiSantis said the airline has been pleased with its first two weeks in Dickinson.

"Since the first day, our flights have basically been full," DiSantis said. "We're very excited about being in Dickinson. We've been in North Dakota in places like Williston and Bismarck and this just helps us further expand here. The first day we had planes here, there were people behind the fence out front taking pictures of the jets, so people are excited we're here and we're excited to be here."

Kay Morast, a representative from Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's, D-N.D., office was on hand for the festivities and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., sent a letter that Remynse read.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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