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Passengers Enjoy New Pierre Airport Terminal

September 19, 2012, 9:57 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Passengers Enjoy New Pierre Airport Terminal

If you're flying into the state’s capital city, you can expect a much more attractive welcome. Pierre is wrapping up finishing touches on a new airport terminal.

For about a week, planes have been taking off from the new facility. Christine Billins came to town for business and hadn't been to Pierre since last year.

"We got off at 9:30 p.m. And I was looking around like 'did we get to the right place? This does not look the same as the small airport I arrived to last year,’" Billins said.

The $12 million project started with a study showing the old terminal had structural problems and not enough space. Airport manager Mike Isaacs says it was never designed to house TSA.

"It's something that's been sorely needed for many years. And it's hard to believe that it's actually up and running right now," Isaacs said.

Isaacs isn't sure if the new facility will draw additional passengers. But he says it provides a better experience for people who do fly Pierre.

Becky Walth lives about the same distance from a few different airports and says the facility wouldn't have much impact on her decision.

"Not necessarily but this is wonderful and they were in need of it most definitely," Walth said.

As someone who lives in a different state, Billins is sure the new building will give a much improved first impression of Pierre, at least compared to the terminal she arrived at a year ago.

"It was fine,” Billins said. “I mean it worked; it was functional. But this is a very lovely, new structure and you actually feel like you're coming to a city, not a small town in the middle of nowhere."

The FAA paid for a bulk of the project and Isaacs said the city contributed a couple million dollars.

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