Additional Airline Capacity Required to Grow Passenger Numbers in North Dakota

North Dakota’s eight commercial service airports posted a total of 89,865 airline passenger boardings during the recent month of July.  This is a decline of 3,057 passengers or a 3.3% decrease in passenger numbers from July of 2021.

North Dakota’s airline passenger counts are currently following a national trend where passenger growth over the last year has leveled to approximately 15% below 2019’s pre-pandemic passenger counts.  This is mainly a result of the limited seat capacity and flight departures that are currently available to the traveling public as those levels continue to remain below pre-pandemic levels.  As shown in the table below, an estimated 111,039 total airline seats were available for purchase within the state of North Dakota during the recent month of July.  This is a 16% decrease or an estimated 20,858 less seats than what was available in July of 2019. 

Passenger demand remains elevated as many of the flights departing or returning to North Dakota are full or near full with the average aircraft load factor at an estimated 80%.  As always, it is recommended to plan ahead and purchase tickets multiple weeks ahead of any planned trips to ensure that each traveler has an available seat.

North Dakota Airline Seat Availability Comparison of 2022 vs. 2019

Month      Available Seats 2019 Available Seats 2022 Seats Comparison (2022 vs. 2019) Percentage Change
Jan 119,866 112,172 -7,694 -6%
Feb 116,581 108,676 -7,905 -7%
Mar 139,858 121,024 -18,834 -13%
April 132,257 106,643 -25,614 -19%
May 124,501 106,407 -18,094 -15%
June 128,530 108,003 -20,527 -16%
July 131,897 111,039 -20,858 -16%

 Information has been retrieved from USDOT data provided via Airline Data Inc.

“Airlines continue to communicate hardships that prevent them from adding additional seat capacity into the system.” stated Kyle Wanner, Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. “Passenger growth cannot occur when we don’t have the additional flights or the seats to accommodate that growth.  We hope to see additional capacity being added back into the North Dakota system as the airline industry continues to re-prioritize the utilization of its fleet and works to improve its staffing issues.”