Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission Kyle Wanner said, “Some of our airports in North Dakota had record-breaking days in early March for travel and record worst days at the end of March”
The number one culprit to blame is the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, around 5,000 passengers boarded planes in April across the state compared to the typical 90 to 100,000 mark, making it the worst month on record in the last 40 years.
“If you go back to 2001 in 9/11 there was a huge decline in the amount of passengers that were going through airports as well during that time and the number in our state was around 27,000 people still going through our terminal buildings during the month of September, so this is incredibly more drastic than past crises,” Wanner said.
Anthony Dudas, Director of the new Williston Basin International Airport, says he’s seen an 89 percent drop in travel at the airport for the month of April, and with much less travel, it’s created a domino effect for other parties involved.
“Obviously there are businesses that are supported by our airport operations whether that be rental cars, our restaurants, and other aviation services like construction and fuel sales and things of that nature. So, we’re continuing to work with our partners to make sure we all make it through this together.” Dudas said.
Although the Aeronautics Commission does not expect to see their typical annual boardings of 1.2 million passengers, they are still assuring the safety of those who do travel with a few improvements and requirements.
“Our airports are putting stickers on the floor to remind passengers to make sure they maintain safe social distance. There are more sanitizing stations around the airport terminals. Airport staff, TSA, they’re sanitizing more surfaces throughout the day and the airlines have very proactive policies as well. Many of them are requiring and or providing masks to passengers.” Wanner said.
Now that restrictions are being lifted countrywide, North Dakota airports are seeing a gradual 10 to 15% increase.