Dickinson introduces jet service at airport in June
Folks looking to catch a jet plane this summer will be able to do so from the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport, which could increase passenger numbers.
Airport manager Matthew Remynse hopes more people will think Dickinson this year when planning vacations, especially with the new services coming to town -- United Airlines service to Denver, which begins June 6, and Delta service to Minneapolis, which begins June 10.
"Williston has Delta and United service now and started jet service last year, while Bismarck offers Delta, United and Frontier and now we'll offer jet service too," Remynse said. "The challenge will be getting people to change their mindset that they have to go to Bismarck to get service to Minneapolis."
In the past three years, Dickinson's yearly passenger boardings have increased from 10,351 in 2010 to 23,864 in 2012.
April information from Stark Development Corporation indicated a small yearly drop in passenger numbers, from 2,214 in March 2012 to 1,491 in March 2013.
The year-to-date boardings at the Dickinson airport totaled 4,216 passengers, compared to a year-to-date total of 6,150 passengers in 2012.
Remynse said he is pleasantly surprised to see jet service so soon, since he has had his eye on it since he started at the airport.
"I didn't think it would come as quick as it did because Minneapolis has never been a route that has run through Dickinson before and people would always just drive to Bismarck to get a flight to there," he said. "I had thought it would take longer for us to build up the numbers to get service here, but Delta feels that numbers are strong enough for us to support two round-trip flights from here."
Last year, there were more than 1 million airline boardings in North Dakota and the state's airline travel increased 10 percent from 2011, according to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.
North Dakota Aeronautics Commission Aviation Projects Manger Joshua Simmers would not speculate on specific numbers, but said he expected the record-breaking trend in commercial air passengers to continue.
Larry Taborsky, director of the aeronautics commission, said the state is making good use of its airports.
"Our office anticipates the numbers to continue to increase, especially with increased capacity coming this summer," he said.
The commission estimated in 2010 that there were 10,000 enplaned passengers that flew out of Dickinson. Passenger survey data estimated that 59 percent of the passengers were visitors to the area.
The yearly passenger numbers at Dickinson have definitely jumped during this oil boom.
"In 2007 and 2008, we were doing about 700 to 800 passengers a month pre-summer, and those were high months for us," Remynse said. "With the oil boom, if we have under 1,200 or 1,300 passengers a month, that is a low month for us.
"With the new jet service, I'm thinking that we could be looking at maybe 3,000 to 4,000 passengers a month. We could be looking at an estimated 40,000 passengers in 2013, and that would be a massive jump for us."