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Air travel making a comeback at North Dakota's airports

BISMARCK (AP) — Air travel has picked up in North Dakota, but it has not returned to the level it was before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The state’s eight commercial service airports saw a significant increase in passenger numbers last month compared to April 2020.

The state Aeronautics Commission says the airports in Bismarck, Minot, Williston, Dickinson, Grand Forks, Fargo, Devils Lake and Jamestown collectively had 62,163 passenger boardings last month. That compares with 92,063 in April 2019.

Just 4,964 passengers traveled by air in April of last year during the pandemic. That was the lowest monthly total since record keeping began four decades ago, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

“Our airports and aviation industry have endured a long road to recovery since last April when passenger levels dropped 95% as our country worked together to slow the spread of COVID-19,” state Aeronautics Commissioner Kyle Wanner said. “Leisure travel has been growing and allowing for an initial recovery in air travel demand. As the nation’s recovery from the pandemic continues, we would also like to see additional business travel begin to cycle back into the market.”

Millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief aid has been sent to North Dakota airports. The latest is a $1.2 million award to the Williston airport.