SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As school starts to end and Memorial Day kicks off summer travel, officials are expecting another uptick in travel and parking at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
Last month, construction started on a new four-level parking ramp with a skywalk entrance. Dan Letellier, executive director of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, told KELOLAND News the first few weeks of construction have gone well, but people using the airport should still expect challenges for the next 18 months of construction.
“We certainly do encourage people, locals for sure, to get a ride to and from the airport,” Letellier said. “It’s gonna take a little extra time dropping and picking up people in front of the building.”
According to Letellier, the most congested times are when there’s multiple flights coming in and leaving at the same time. With construction happening near the entrance of the airport, space to pickup and dropoff people can be limited at peak times.
“People just need to be patient,” Letellier said. “It’s not like it used to be where they could just drop somebody off or pick somebody up and then head out. We encourage them to use our cell phone (parking) lot to wait out there until the person they’re meeting is actually here and has their luggage.”
Parking, which typically peaks in the later winter months, will still be a challenge as construction will force more cars into the economy parking lot. Letellier said he’s hopeful expansion on the economy parking lot, an additional 500 parking spaces, could be finished by mid-June.
“The long-term lot does tend to get full on a regular basis, but it does have some space. For sure the economy does,” Letellier said. “We have shuttles that are continuously going from the economy lot to the terminal building on a regular basis.”
According to the latest data from January 2023, total flights at the airport were up 3.8% compared to 2022 with 4,099 total flights.
Total passengers at the airport were up nearly 20% with 103,631 total passengers in January 2023 compared to 86,554 total passengers in January 2022.
Early morning, late night Lyfts and Ubers a challenge
Airport officials are still asking for Sioux Falls residents to find rides and to and from the airport if possible, but early and late flights can make alternative ride options hard to find.
Some of the first departures leave Sioux Falls at 5 a.m., while some arrivals go past midnight. Letellier said he’s heard of challenges for people looking for rides early in the morning and late at night. He said that problem is not unique to just Sioux Falls.
“There aren’t as many drivers, even though the kind of need is coming back,” Letellier said. “There’s not a whole lot that we can do. Other than, grab a rental car I guess if there’s no other option.”
Until peak parking demand returns in February and March, Letellier said people should be able to find a parking spot in the economy lot and expect a shuttle ride.
Parking rates at the airport are $11 per day for the long term lot and $9 a day for the economy lot. There’s an hourly rate of $2 per hour for both parking lots.
Parking fees make up a large part of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport’s revenue and it’s allowed the airport to cover most of the costs for the $63 million four-level parking ramp that will have 975 spaces.
Lon Stroschein, chairman of the airport’s authority board, said the ribbon cutting future parking fees will be needed along with other funding options for future gates in the airport’s terminal.