SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The number of passengers using flights at the Rapid City Airport declined in September this year from September 2022 but the overall numbers are higher for this year.

Data shared by the city of Rapid City lists deplanements and enplanements by month for 2022 and 2023. The airport had its third-highest number of passengers in 2022 with 672,549.

The highest year recorded was in 2019 with 705,429 passengers. Through September of this year, the airport had 537,521 passengers.

Growth in passenger numbers has helped spark improvements at several airports in South Dakota and Rapid City. A look at two other airports in neighboring states also shows growth and projects in the millions of dollars.

Rapid City can’t be compared to the regional airport in Sioux Falls based solely on numbers. Sioux Falls serves a larger population and has more flights. But there is value in comparing the growth in passengers served.

In September of this year, Sioux Falls had a 14% growth in passengers over 2022. In September 2022, the airport had 12.3% growth over 2021.

In May of this year, the airport in Rapid City posted a 20% growth in passengers over May of 2022. The airport also posted a big increase in January of this year with a 34% growth in total passengers over January 2022.

Both airports have improvement projects. The airport in Sioux Falls is building a new parking ramp in a $63 million project. The terminal is expanding in Rapid City. The total project cost, broken into several phases, is estimated at $170 million to $200 million.

The airport in Fargo, North Dakota, has also seen growth. The airport is an international airport called Hector International Airport. The airport had total 81,953 total passengers in September. The city said this was an increase of 17% over September of 2022.month was 81,953, which is up 17% over the same period last year. The U.S. Census listed Fargo’s 2022 estimated population at 131,444.

A drawing of the planned airport terminal expansion in Fargo. City of Fargo image.

Rapid City’s estimated Census Bureau 2022 population is 78,824.

A $124 million expansion to the passenger terminal is planned for Fargo.

In Iowa, the passenger numbers for September 2023 increased slightly over 2022 at the international airport in Des Moines. The total passengers was 245,536 in 2023 and 244,672 in 2023. That is a .4% increase. There has been a 9.8% increase in the year-to-date passenger numbers for 2023 compared to 2022, according to city data. The airport has had about 2.3 million passengers through September 2023 compared to 2.1 million in 2022.

A $445 million terminal expansion is set to open in late 2026 at the airport in Des Moines.