Airport Director Anthony Dudas has met with multiple new airlines with hopes of attracting an additional air service provider and routes for improved leisure and business travel options. Possible new routes that have been brought up in these discussions include Salt Lake City, Houston, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. As of now, no commitments have been made.
The air service development consultant, Landrum and Brown recently provided a statistic showing Williston currently having the third highest fares in the nation.
“Ticket prices are generally a direct result of the local economy and demand. So, with where we are, it is a challenge to bring the high prices down. We are hoping with more aircraft, larger aircraft, and additional airlines, prices will go down,” said Anthony Dudas, airport director.
At an attempt to further incentivize future airlines, the City of Williston is seeking a Small Community Air Service Development (SCASD) Grant to assist their efforts to provide lower-cost airfare for the community.
The application for this grant was submitted on July 15th and will provide resources to fund a Minimum Revenue Guarantee (MRG) for a future airline.
The estimated approval date is unknown, but this grant could greatly increase the chances of a new airline servicing Williston Basin International.
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Dudas spoke about the City’s efforts in this process, “It is a challenge to educate the public on what is going on behind the scenes. The City of Williston and the airport are working diligently to get those additional airlines that everyone (including the airport) wants. We are trying to make it so air carriers have an incentive to come to Williston and one way of doing that is by providing all of the upfront costs associated with coming to a new airport.”
He also noted that the airport hopes to have something soon, but it may not be day one.
Even though there have been no commitments made by new airlines, there have been commitments from existing airlines, United and Delta, to each replace one 50-seat aircraft. Delta Airlines will have a 70-seat CRJ-700 and United will have a 76-seat ERJ-175. Both aircraft will also feature a first-class section for an improved in-flight experience.
Be on the lookout for additional commitments from airlines and updates on the SCASD grant application as October approaches.