BISMARCK, N.D. - Nearly 1.2 million people boarded planes in North Dakota in 2019, making for a busy year in airports. This also means good news for air travelers, with airports like Fargo beginning to offer seasonal non-stop flights to places like Nashville, the options continue to broaden to connect the people of North Dakota to the rest of the country.
The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission released a report with boarding numbers from 2019, and they are up 10 percent from 2018.
"We see this increase for a multitude of reasons. We have competitive air service in our communities, we've seen reasonable ticket prices, we have airports that can now accommodate the growth that we're seeing in air service," said Kyle Wanner, executive director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.
The number of passengers is the highest it has been since its peak during the oil boom of 2014. Wanner says that more travel is an indicator of a healthy economy.
"Our air service numbers are closely correlated to the sales tax revenue and oil production throughout the state," Wanner said.
While the holidays are always known to be a busy air travel season, it extends beyond that at the Bismarck Airport.
"Everyone is looking to go out, get a vacation, get away from the cold weather, and go down south,” said Matthew Remynse, marketing and operations manager of the Bismarck Airport.
More travelers means higher demand for accommodations like parking.
"It's time to expand. We're designing the parking lots right now, and we'll be constructing them this summer," Remynse said.
Passengers also enjoy the convenience of air travel.
"I enjoy flying. It's easier than driving," Brandon Lawson, an airport traveler said.
Overall, growth of this kind is beneficial for the economy and passengers alike.
"A 10 percent growth from one year to another is pretty exciting," Wanner said.
Wanner also estimates 2020 to be a record breaking year. The state could experience even more passengers than it had in 2014.