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Rapid City Airport Seeing Record Numbers

December 24, 2010, 9:45 PM by Austin Hoffman

Rapid City Airport Seeing Record Numbers
RAPID CITY, SD - More people might pass through the Rapid City Regional airport this year than ever before.

Airport Executive Director, Cameron Humphries, says the current record from 2008 is more than 565,000 passengers. At the end of November, they already had more than 551,000 pass through security. He said why isn't a single answer question.

"One is that of course the black hills is really a premier vacation destination. I think people around the country and indeed around the world are waking up to that," Humphries said.

He said a fairly rural population actually works to the airport's advantage.

"I always tell people you can drive nearly 5 hours in any direction before you run into a city of our size or larger and so that geographic isolation actually works to the advantage of air service," Humphries said.

With very few other options for many people traveling in western South Dakota, parts of Montana and Wyoming, Rapid City is the easiest place to leave from.

Humphries also said it helps that the state has faired pretty well in the recent economy.

"Typical or average is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent last year. We were only down 2, a little over 2.5 percent. The fact that South Dakota has done so well weathering the economic downturn I think has certainly shown true here at the airport," Humphries said.

Humphries is optimistic holiday traffic will give them a new record.

"We're on track for beating the 2008 numbers and I think that we're gonna get there,' Humphries said.

The airport will soon be undergoing a $21 million renovation to prepare for more traffic over the next 20 years.

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