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Airport passenger numbers continue to improve

What a difference a year makes.

Last April, airline passenger boardings in North Dakota dropped to just under 5000, thanks to COVID-19.

"That was a 95 percent drop in boardings," said North Dakota Aeronautics Commission executive director Kyle Wanner.

Now, last month,  62,000 passengers flew out of North Dakota's airports. Wanner said that’s good news – but passenger numbers are still about 30 percent less than normal. Still, Wanner said it is trending in the right direction.

"The main reason is an increase in leisure travel," Wanner said. "We have a lot of people wanting to get out to see relatives, and have pent-up demand from people not traveling for a while."

Wanner said business travel is still lagging – at least in part because of the use of technology to hold meetings remotely.

"That being said, as the recovery continues in the future, we're very hopeful people are once again going to want to travel, because it's so important to have that personal interaction as well," Wanner said.

Wanner said more travel demand could also mean an increase in flight frequencies. He said only one route -- Williston to Minneapolis on Delta -- was dropped during the pandemic, and Delta has resumed flying that route.

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