North Dakota Surpasses 1.1 Million Airline Boardings in 2023

North Dakota’s commercial service airports finished calendar year 2023 with a statewide total of 1,136,828 airline passenger boardings. This is a growth of 108,669 passengers and an 11% overall increase from calendar year 2022. Seven of the airports also finished the year with higher passenger counts than in 2022 and Fargo and Devils Lake recorded their best year on record.

In 2023, the airports also tallied 1,137,485 passenger deplanements for a grand total of 2,274,313 passengers (arrivals and departures) that traveled through the commercial service terminal buildings of North Dakota over the past year.

The aviation industry has been adversely affected since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when the country experienced a significant decline in passenger numbers beginning in March of 2020. That year, airline passenger demand dropped by over 50% and North Dakota recorded an annual total of 572,093 passenger boardings. Since that time, airline passenger demand has seen a remarkable recovery, and the current data reveals that air travel demand remains strong in North Dakota.

The current growth in passenger demand bolsters the justification for airlines to look to add more flights, destinations, and seat capacity to North Dakota’s airports. Airlines, however; continue to cite challenges in their ability to upscale as they continue to grapple with a shortage of pilots and other aviation related jobs. The need for a growing aviation workforce will continue to create opportunities for our youth to consider a career in the aviation sector. Pilots, aircraft mechanics, airport operators, and unmanned aircraft technicians are just a few of the exciting career options that are projected to continue to be in high demand. 

Despite all challenges, North Dakota continues to provide the public with a high level of air service availability as the state’s airports provide the public with six continual non-stop destination options and an additional four seasonal non-stop options. All eight of the commercial service airports in North Dakota also continue to provide their communities with reliable jet service options.

“North Dakota’s airports achieved an impressive 11% annual increase in passengers during 2023 and have officially rebounded from many of the pandemic-induced challenges,” stated Kyle Wanner, Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.  The numbers tell a story of determination and growth while also showcasing the state’s commitment to providing our citizens and guests with strong and reliable air service. As we look to the future, the aviation industry will continue to support our diversifying economy while also providing incredible career opportunities for the next generation.”

Calendar Year 2023 Boarding Records:

  • The Fargo Hector International Airport achieved a new annual passenger record with 516,071 passenger boardings. The previous calendar record for the airport was set in 2019 with 471,333 passengers. This growth has prompted the airport to move forward with a terminal expansion which will begin construction in the spring of 2024.
  • The Devils Lake Airport also achieved a new annual passenger record with 8,087 passenger boardings. The previous calendar record for the airport was set in 2019 with 6,973 passengers.

View the 2023 Calendar Year Airline Boarding Report

Calendar Year 2023 Statewide Airline Passenger Statistics

  • Total Airline Passenger Boardings: 1,136,828
  • Available Airline Departure Seats: 1,353,568
  • Average Aircraft Load Factor: 84%
  • Number of Successful Airline Departure Flights: 17,157
  • Number of Airline Departure Flight Cancellations: 297
  • Airline Departure Flight Cancellation Rate: 1.7%