SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Many people who live in Sioux Falls have flown out of Minneapolis or Omaha at some point to get a better deal. But it looks like that trend may be turning around.
Passengers flying out the Sioux Falls airport jumped by 18 percent in May after an entire year of record-setting increases. It's known as the Frontier effect. The discount carrier, which arrived in Sioux Falls last July 4, has helped boost passenger numbers to the airport because it's driven down the price of flights heading west.
Dillon Karras flies to Denver and wouldn't consider driving to another city for a flight.
"I like the Sioux Falls airport; it's a nice size. I've been to DIA before; it's 300-plus gates and it's a hassle. Here you get in, get out, go through security in about five minutes and you're at your gate. It's nice and easy," Karras said.
While western fares have fallen, it's still more expensive to head east from Sioux Falls.
"What we're lacking is that eastbound, low-cost connection and all it takes is one new market going East with a lower fair and that could have a dramatic impact," Sioux Falls Airport Deputy Director Richard King said.
While the Sioux Falls airport is constantly trying to attract more low-cost carriers, the airport may have better luck working with the ones already here.
"The probabilities of getting a new route by our current discount carriers, Allegiant and Frontier, are significantly greater than getting a new discount carrier," King said.
The airport does expect passenger numbers to slow down as we head into July and construction begins on the airport runways. Work also continues on adding parking spaces.
"These are improvements we're taking now in anticipation of continued growth," King said.
Another number that's up at the Sioux Falls airport is the amount of cargo going in and out, by some 30 percent in May. Cargo numbers are an important indication of a robust economy.
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