NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — The month of July was slow for North Dakota Airports, but what do the coming months look like for our state?

Airline boarding during July saw a decline of about 3,000 passengers or just over 3% from July of 2021. 

This decline correlates with a national trend in which passenger numbers over the last year have dropped to about 15% below 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.

“But it’s really a nationwide issue, to be able to bring back the capacity that we had in 2019 and to put that into perspective, we keep track of how many seats are available for sale out of XWA and we’re still down about 35%,” said Williston Basin International Airport Director Anthony Dudas. 

This is a result of pilot shortages, especially for smaller airlines, as well as, seat capacity and flight departures, that are still below pre-pandemic numbers.

However, year-to-date, the Williston Basin Airport is having its best year since 2020.

“So we’re hoping and we’re seeing a lot of promising change here at XWA as we continue to increase passengers and seats available, United Airlines specifically has upgauged, put larger airplanes into our facility in July, and in August and we are expecting to see more of that as we move into the fall,” added Dudas.

Airports around North Dakota, however, are starting to get better numbers.

Coming soon to 2023, Williston will offer flights to Phoenix as a result of the United States Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Grant.

“In the amount of $500,000 to help attract direct service to Phoenix and that’s something that our city leadership has had in their sites for quite a long time,” said Dudas.

Airports in North Dakota plan to return to pre-pandemic levels in two years.

Williston Basin will keep us posted as to when their service to Phoenix will begin.