Airline passenger numbers are up in ND
The demand for air travel remains strong in North Dakota.
The state Aeronautics Commission reports more than 99 thousand passengers boarded airlines in North Dakota’s airports in July. That’s a 12 percent increase from last July.
Commission executive director Kyle Wanner said the load factors for the planes are high.
"They're at 86 percent," Wanner said. "That means most of our planes are very full."
Wanner said that's good news, overall.
"It shows high demand," Wanner said. "We need the airlines to add additional capacity to our markets, so additional seats will be available, and we can see passenger numbers go higher than they are."
Wanner said business travel has not yet fully recovered from the pandemic.
"But we are seeing high load factors, which indicates leisure travel has just been tremendous during the summer months," Wanner said. "Business travel is growing again, but it lags behind pre-pandemic numbers."
Jobs available in the air travel industry
Wanner said a lot has been reported about the pilot shortage. But he said there are open jobs in other areas as well.
"There is a massive need for aviation mechanics," Wanner said.
Wanner said there has been talk of establishing an aviation mechanics program at one of North Dakota's colleges. He said the closest program is in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.
"Usually, it's a two-year program," Wanner said. "A lot of times, you can get out of school, making $70,000 to $80,000, with many opportunities for growth above that."
Wanner said there are also shortages in the TSA, which provides security for passengers at airports. He said overall, there are a lot of opportunities in the aviation sector.