Airline boardings bode well for Minot economy

People looking for a positive sign relating to Minot’s economic health and its future can take heart in the latest airline boarding numbers. We do.

As we reported earlier this week, boardings are up at the Minot International Airport; it would be hard to view this as a negative sign.

True, airline boardings are not a perfect barometer of economic trends but they are at least worth taking note of – especially if one is looking for a positive in an otherwise troubling time.

The report said commercial airline boardings at the Minot airport were up nearly 9 percent in the first quarter of 2019. That is according to statistics from the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.

Figures show 39,624 boardings from January through March, which is higher than boarding numbers of the past two years. Minot recorded 15,107 passengers in March, up 7.6 percent from March 2018.

By comparison, for the first quarter Williston boardings of 19,265 passengers show an increase of 17.3 percent. Bismarck, with 73,805 boardings, is up 15.7 percent. Fargo is up 6 percent, and Grand Forks 5.5 percent. Statewide boardings at the five busiest airports rose 9.56 percent, while regional airports at Dickinson, Devils Lake and Jamestown are collectively down about 4 percent, despite Dickinson seeing an increase.

Airline boardings can suggest a number of things – population fluctuations, people’s ability to vacation or visit places requiring air travel, out-of-state business activity, even the ever-changing cost of flying (perhaps the airlines were having promotions).

Again, what today’s numbers mean precisely is not clear. But we do know that more people flying is a better sign, a better reflection on the city and its people than a decrease of similar proportion. That alone should be worth celebrating, even by the most skeptical of Minot’s residents.