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Business air travel not back quite yet; Airlines say a pilot shortage is preventing restoring some routes

As North Dakota’s commercial airports see boardings rise and passengers return, there is one area of travel that still is lagging behind: Business travel.

"You look at Bismarck, the Capital City," said North Dakota Aeronautics Commission executive director Kyle Wanner. "We just don't have the government and business travel we have seen in the past."

Wanner said he's hoping that as concerns over the pandemic ease in the spring and summer months, and restrictions state to ease, people will want to venture out.

"They maybe would like to begin to network again, and grow their businesses," Wanner said. "And as government employees get back into travel mode, those factors come into play."

As commercial air travel rebounds from the pandemic year of 2020, local, airport managers are hoping to get some flights restored or expanded. But Wanner said although the demand is there, the airlines say they are short-staffed.

"The excuse they hear from the airlines is, the flights are full, and they would like to add capacity, they're currently struggling with finding pilots, and in some cases the aircraft, to accommodate the increases," Wanner said.

Still, Wanner said he’s confident that over time, these issues will work themselves out.

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