Pierre Regional Airport is experiencing more traffic than it has seen since 2013. Since the beginning of the year, 10,160 passengers have flown out of the Pierre Airport. Pierre Airport Manager Mike Isaacs says that this is fantastic news for a number of reasons.
“People no longer feel the need to travel to Rapid City or Sioux Falls just to catch a flight,” said Isaacs. “The increased traffic demonstrates that reliable and affordable air-service is available in central South Dakota.”
ADI is Pierre’s commercial air-service provider, and Isaacs points to ADI’s record as a big reason for the increased traffic. Since ADI starting operating in Pierre last August, the carrier has completed 96% of its flights and had on-time departures 77% of the time.
Aside from the convenience factor, Isaacs points to the local economic benefits of increased traffic at the Pierre Airport.
“We know that people who fly into Pierre are generally staying in the region. That means they’re visiting our restaurants, staying at our hotels, using our services, and otherwise spending time and money in the area.”
The 10,000 passenger benchmark is important to the airport’s capital improvement budget as well. The Federal Aviation Administration provides annually $1-million in entitlement money to commercial airports that have at least 10,000 passengers a year. It’s those federal dollars that pay for major airport improvements like the construction of the airport terminal in 2012 and the boarding bridge that will come online in April.
According to Isaacs, the positive passenger trend could also speak to the future of Pierre’s commercial air-service.
“Right now, Pierre is designated as an Essential Air Service Community. That means our flights are federally subsidized to help make them affordable,” said Isaacs. “When we perform at this level, it demonstrates to the federal government that central South Dakota is worthy of its investment.”
The Pierre Airport offers jet service twice daily to Denver. The one-hour flight usually costs $100, but between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can catch one of those daily flights for $75.