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COVID-19 has taken a toll on airlines, but not the local economy

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For months, we were advised to stay home and to avoid travel. It’s caused headaches for the airline industry.

The number of passengers at airports in North Dakota was down by nearly half of its normal amount in 2020, down to fewer than 600,000 passengers over the course of the year.

The lack of passengers also affects the hospitality industry.

Brian Ritter from the Bismarck-Mandan chamber EDC says, “When you have fewer travelers coming into Bismarck and Mandan and they’re spending less in hotels and they’re spending less in visitor attractions and things like that. It certainly makes an impact.”

But Kyle Wanner, from the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, says there is optimism for the airline industry. He says aid from the COVID 19 stimulus packages helped keep layoffs at a minimum at airports.

“There really have not been a lot of layoffs at our airports specifically due to the COVID-19 stimulus packages that were made available,” said Wanner.

He also says airports and airlines have followed guidelines issued by the CDC to ensure the safety of travelers.

Although the pandemic has been tough on the airlines, Ritter says our local economy as a whole has not felt the crunch.

He says, “Our home sales are up over last year our new building permits are up over last year. So overall Bismarck-Mandan’s economy has performed very well.”

Ritter says the airport has flights to various tourist destinations, attracting people from all over North and South Dakota and Montana to Bismarck to fly out of Bismarck.

Both Wanner and Ritter are optimistic not only for the future of Bismarck Airport but for the Bismarck-Mandan economy as a whole.

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