The number of fares-paying airline passengers boarding at Minot International Airport was up 44 percent in August, hitting the highest level since 1992, according to airport statistics.
Boardings so far this year are up 14.5 percent.
Although Delta Airlines announced it is ending its twice-daily Salt Lake City flights due to low passenger traffic, United Airlines continues to offer a westbound flight to Denver. United flights have averaged 64 percent full with revenue passengers.
"That's about the minimum we would want to be to sustain it long term," said Andy Solsvig, airport manager.
Airlines look more at profit margins than load levels, but based on previous information from airlines, they desire a load level in the mid-60s to meet revenue requirements, Solsvig said.
Delta was averaging a 52 to 58 percent load factor with its Salt Lake City flights. Solsvig said the airport will continue to work with Delta to bring back the flight during the travel season next spring or summer.
Other statistics from the airport show:
-Planes leaving Minot average 70 percent full this year.
- Departures in August compared to the same month a year ago were up from 121 to 271 and monthly seats increased from 9,317 to 15,968.
- Car rentals were up 38 percent in August and 28 percent for the year.
- Airport parking was up 73 percent in August and 25 percent for the year.
Without the Salt Lake City flight, passengers still can book through Delta's Minneapolis service or United's Denver service. Starting Oct. 22, Allegiant Airlines will begin offering flights to Las Vegas.
The addition of new flights this summer helped boost July to the third busiest month in the airport's history. Historically, July is the busiest month for air travel. This past July, there were 20,568 people coming and and going, a 30.7 percent increase over July 2009. August was close behind with more than 19,000 passengers, a 42.5 percent increase over the same month a year ago.
The air traffic control tower reported an increase of 33 percent in monthly aircraft activity in August from a year earlier due to more frequent commercial, cargo, general aviation and military operations.