RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — The pandemic caused passenger numbers to plummet 93 percent at the Rapid City Regional Airport, compared to the previous year. Now, the Airport is seeing those numbers go back up month-by-month.
In just four months, the number of passengers flying out of the Rapid City Airport rose from 1,500 passengers in April to nearly 20,000 in July.
“For us, we view this as being a significant event and positive because it’s showing growth and recovery in the industry,” Dame said.
Executive Director Patrick Dame says the airport’s number one priority is making sure passengers are comfortable flying.
“So we are working on protective measures around the terminal in an effort to make sure that people feel safe in their travels. And the biggest thing is we want to welcome our customers back,” Dame said.
The Rapid City Regional Airport is taking several health precautions, like offering hand sanitizer and free masks to its passengers.
“We are also doing additional cleaning in the facility, we’ve got a backpack ionizing sprayer for sanitizing of surfaces,” Dame said.
“It’s much more comfortable in a smaller airport than in a bigger one because there are less people, so yeah I just feel really comfortable here,” Summer Marnette said.
Richard and Summer Marnette are going to Virginia today. It’s their first time flying since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“They seem to take care of everything. Everything seems fine everybody has their masks on, I’ve only seen a few people without them. In my mind be safe, the best you can be. From what we hear, flights are cleaning in between flights pretty well,” Richard Marnette.
Dame believes the number of passengers is going to keep climbing, and August will be even busier than July.
The Rapid City Regional Airport had record-breaking passenger loads in both January and February, putting the Airport on track for a fourth record-breaking year in a row. Compared to last year, passenger numbers are down 52 percent.