Airport boarding numbers hold steady in Bismarck despite drop statewide

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When the oil industry was booming in North Dakota, so were the airlines. Since then, oil has slowed and airport boarding numbers have decreased at all commercial airports in the state, but one commercial airport is bucking the trend.

Bismarck is the only airport that hasn't seen a decline in passengers, compared to other commercial airports in North Dakota, like Fargo, which lost almost 13 percent of its passengers.

The five out of the six commercial airports in North Dakota have seen passenger losses of about 19 percent compared to this time last year.

"We have low oil prices, we have low farm commodities, We have a lower exchange with the Canadian dollar so we have less Canadian travel coming out of North Dakota," said Kyle Wanner, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.

Wanner also says that nationwide, issues such as a pilot shortage is affecting a lot of airlines.

"The airlines are reducing capacity at some airports. So having less airlines that are able to come into each airport specifically caused from that pilot shortage," said Wanner.

While all other airports might be losing passengers, people are still checking in at the Bismarck Municipal Airport.

"Having the five airlines to seven direct destinations really helps us. We have that competitive edge over our competitors and centralized location within the state helps," said Matthew Remynse, Bismarck Airport.

Even though numbers are declining Wanner says they're not returning to pre-economic boom levels.

"If you go pre-economic we were at 700,000 - 800,000 passengers. We're going to be surpassing one million this year, which wasn't actually forecasted to happen till 2030.

Year to date, Bismarck has over 5,000 more passengers than this time last year.

The two commercial airports that have seen the biggest losses are Dickinson and Williston, which have lost 65 percent and 40 percent year to date, respectfully.