Simplified: More than a year since the start of the pandemic, Sioux Falls Regional Airport traffic is inching closer to normal rates for the summer, and as normalcy resumes, a planned parking ramp project is also back on track.
Why it matters
- Last summer, the airport took a hit when it saw people travel at about half the normal rate, Executive Director Dan Letellier said.
- It wasn't just Sioux Falls. Nationally, airline travel was down 62 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
- This year, the Sioux Falls airport's goal is to hit between 70 and 75 percent of the airport traffic seen in 2019. As of the end of May, they'd hit that 70 percent mark, Letellier said.
- That means the airport is back to planning improvements including a new $35 million parking ramp, which was delayed a year and now set to be constructed in 2023.
What happens next?
Other improvements coming this year include replacing carpeting, wall coverings, gate counters and podiums in the terminal. They're also planning to add a small family restroom, Letellier said.
It also remains to be seen if business travel will resume – if not at pre-pandemic rates – at least at that 70 to 75 percent mark. It may take another few years to hit even that mark, according to the Wall Street Journal.
What else should travelers know?
- Plan ahead. After many folks stayed home last year, there's a pent-up demand for travel. That means rental cars, hotels, camping sites, etc. may be harder to find or more expensive.
"There's a lot of people traveling, and they're going to those same places that you're thinking about going," Letellier said.
- You'll still have to wear a mask, even if you're vaccinated, at least through September, per federal guidelines.