Business booming for oil patch airportsBISMARCK (AP) — Airports in western North Dakota’s booming oil patch are setting new passenger boarding records nearly every month and need tens of millions of dollars to invest in terminals, parking and runway upgrades, the state’s aeronautics commissioner said.
BISMARCK (AP) — Airports in western North Dakota’s booming oil patch are setting new passenger boarding records nearly every month and need tens of millions of dollars to invest in terminals, parking and runway upgrades, the state’s aeronautics commissioner said.
Dickinson, Williston and Minot airports have set airline boarding records nearly each month for the past three years, said Larry Taborsky.
“The airports are full and getting to the extreme point. Bigger runways are needed to support bigger planes and more facilities are needed for passengers,” he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and state airports are in the process of determining future needs for the facilities and cost estimates, the commissioner said.
Upgrades for airports come from a federal aviation trust fund that is supported by airline ticket and fuel taxes.
Dickinson boarded 89 percent more passengers in September than it did in September 2010, and Williston saw an 87 percent jump.
“Williston is way beyond capacity and parking lots are now spilling out on to the grass,” Taborsky said. “Dickinson is the same way.”
The year-on-year September jump at Minot’s airport was slightly lower, at 61 percent, but it experienced the biggest increase in actual passengers boarded, 5,087 more, among the state’s eight commercial and regional airports.
Airports in Fargo and Grand Forks, in the eastern part of the state, boarded fewer passengers than they did last September, but boardings were up nearly 1,100 in Bismarck, which boarded 16,147 passengers this September.
Williston, in the heart of the oil patch, boarded more than 2,700 passengers in September, which is nearly twice as many as last September and nine times as many as it served in 2002.