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Record boardings shows good things happening at airport

by Jamestown Sun - Staff

Posted on 7/12/2016

Jamestown Regional Airport is experiencing some growing pains due to more people using the airport. It''s a good problem for the airport that had record passenger boardings in June.

Last month the airport had 999 paid passenger boardings, the most since the federal government deregulated the airport industry in 1978. Since SkyWest Airlines became the provider of commercial passenger jet service to the airport in 2014, passenger boarding numbers have steadily increased. The partnership between SkyWest and the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority has paid off for both.

A short-range goal for the airport and the Airport Authority, the public board that oversees the airport and its budget, is to average 10,000 paid passenger boardings per year. When this happens, the airport will receive about $800,000 more in federal funding that can be used for federal-aid eligible projects at the airport. In 2015, the airport had 8,642 passenger boardings, so this year''s goal of 10,000 passengers is not unreachable.

With the steady increase in passengers, the airport is experiencing growing pains that it''s working to address. Later this year the secured seating area will be expanded slightly from 39 seats to 50, the most number of paid passengers it can seat in the planes providing daily service at the airport.

Sam Seafeldt, airport manager, said foundation work is expected to start today for the passenger-boarding bridge the airport bought from Minot International Airport in May. The passenger-boarding bridge will provide passengers with an enclosed bridge from the airport terminal to the airplane. The bridge should be installed and in use by the fall, just in time as temperatures fall and winter nears.

Offering free parking has also been a bonus for the airport and is so popular the airport''s parking area is being expanded. Larger airports in the state are charging for parking, so offering it for free has become attractive to travelers in the state. Jamestown Regional Airport also offers rental car service, a service that could be expanded to accommodate the growing need for a variety of rental vehicles.

A strong airport helps attract business to the Jamestown area. Connie Ova, CEO of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., said one of the first things a site selector for a company or business will ask about is whether a community has a good airport. So a growing airport such as Jamestown''s will continue to serve as a tool in finding more business to grow Jamestown.

There is a lot of good happening at Jamestown Regional Airport. The growing pains are a sign that use is growing and the airport is meeting the needs of many travelers. These are good problems to have.

(Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper''s editorial board.)