Pierre Airport: 17,500 Passengers in 2021
More than 17,500 people took commercial flights out of Pierre in 2021. That’s more than double the passenger load the Pierre Regional Airport experienced in 2020.
“Last January, I had my fingers crossed that we’d experience an air traffic rebound in 2021, and we sure did,” said Airport Comm. Jamie Huizenga. “That 10,000 enplanement threshold is huge for our community, and we smashed it!”
Commercial airports are granted entitlement dollars from the federal government; the dollar amount is based on passenger numbers.
“If we have 10,000 or more enplanements in a year, we receive $1 million,” said Cameron Howard, Airport Manager. “It’s those dollars that have allowed us to do large capital improvements at the airport like taxiway upgrades and runway rehabilitation projects.”
Airports that don’t meet passenger number qualifications receive diminished entitlement dollars. In Pierre’s case, the annual stipend would drop to $200,000.
“To put this in perspective, in 2020, we did a major taxiway realignment that was necessary to meet new federal regulations; that project cost about $4 million,” said Pierre Mayor Steve Harding. “Those mandated changes are a lot more achievable when we’re receiving a $1 million shot in the arm versus a $200,000 boost.”
To Comm. Huizenga, the good news extends beyond the federal financial benefits.
“What’s really exciting to me is that our airport is providing a much needed service to all of central South Dakota. Thanks to the reliable, safe, and affordable air service we have been able to build, people no longer need to drive hours to access the international travel network.”
The Pierre Regional Airport currently offers twelve weekly round trip flights to Denver. Those flights are operated by Denver Air Connection. Tickets can booked at DenverAirConnection.com or any major travel site.