An already busy Minot airport will get even busier this summer.
Delta Airlines is adding a sixth flight May 1 and will add a seventh flight June 9, both to Minneapolis. The new June flight will enable people to fly out later in the evening through Sept. 6. Allegiant also will be adding another two flights to Las Vegas during the month of June only.
The addition of flights isn't typical of what's happening in the industry, said Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter, Atlanta, Ga.
The Minot airport terminal sees activity April 22.
Vehicles park in the traffic lane of a completed filled parking lot at the Minot airport April 22.
"We are doing this at a time when we are anticipating very high jet fuel costs for the summer. We are actually being very conservative about our flights, so it's nice that we are able to do this," he said.
Delta is adding three other flights in the state this summer between Fargo and Minneapolis and Salt Lake City and between Grand Forks and Minneapolis.
In a number of markets, Delta is switching from regional jets to larger aircraft for certain flights. Delta has indicated it will fly the 66-seat EMB-170 aircraft on the last flight in and first flight out each day from Minot. The aircraft has 16 more seats than the regional jets and offers a first-class section.
With the increase in flights, Minot will have 466 seats available this summer on a daily basis on Delta and United Airlines, which offers two flights a day to Denver. Allegiant offers another 300 seats a day on certain days.
Allegiant's summer schedule calls for twice weekly flights to Phoenix to continue. The airline will bump up its twice weekly flights to Las Vegas to four times a week during June only. In July, both the Las Vegas and Phoenix flights will occur on Thursdays and Sundays. Allegiant has been offering the Las Vegas flights on Fridays and Mondays.
"It's going to be extremely busy, but we are as prepared as we can be," airport director Andrew Solsvig said of the summer schedule.
The effect on an already crowded parking lot will depend on how full the flights are and whether people use the drop-off and pickup or long-term parking, he said.
The existing situation has seen times when the lot has temporarily filled, requiring attendants to bar the gate and vehicles to circle until cleared for landing. If the parking situation worsens, the airport will look at alternatives, either using additional airport property for parking, using a shuttle system or urging more people to use drop-off and pickup, Solsvig said.
The airport will be enforcing the loading and unloading zone to avoid congestion in front of the terminal, Solsvig said. A person must remain with the vehicle to avoid a ticket.
The airport expects to make more one-hour parking available in its plan for expanding the parking lot. But even if the Minot City Council approves spending MAGIC Fund dollars next Monday on the expansion, it could take three months or more to complete plans and bid approvals so that construction can start.
As for the terminal, which will be remodeled if the council approves, it should be able to handle the additional passengers because of the spacing of the scheduling, Solsvig said.
Banstetter said Delta's additional flights are a response to seasonal demand that increases in the summer.
With the changes, Delta's weekday schedule includes flights departing at 5 a.m., 6:50 a.m., 10:55 a.m., 1:15 p.m. 3 p.m., 4:45 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Delta's weekend schedule will offer five to six daily flights.