A growing airport helps to continue Sioux Falls’ growth as well

The City of Sioux Falls has seen tremendous population growth over the past three years, but as the community grows, the airport is also feeling some growing pains.

In tonight’s Your Money Matters, why the airport’s ongoing expansion is vital to the continued growth of Sioux Falls.

“A growing airport is a reflection of a growing community,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

That growth is very evident at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport this summer as construction for the new parking ramp and skywalk are well underway.

“It seems like every time I come, something new is there,” Sioux Falls traveler Adam Ellsworth said.

Long time local travelers like Adam Ellsworth have seen the growth over time, and have adjusted their travel plans because of it.

“Growing up we used to go down to Omaha, Minneapolis all the time to save a few bucks, that’s not even on my radar anymore, everyone I know just flies out of Sioux Falls because it’s quick and easy,” Ellsworth said.

“Flights are up 10 to 20 percent over the same time last year, which was also a record year, so we’re seeing a lot more people using the airport, choosing to stay in town,” TenHaken said.

The growth at the airport is also helping to make this more of a regional hub as many travelers from communities nearby come to Sioux Falls to fly.

“It’s an economic draw, people come in they drive in to fly out of Sioux Falls, there’s hotel nights that come with that, there’s restaurant bills that come with that, so it really is an economic benefit to have a vibrant airport,” TenHaken said.

The mayor says the parking project underway right now is just the beginning.

“There’s a demand for more flights, we need more gates, we need to access more flight options through adding more gates,” TenHaken said.

The mayor says the continued expansion of the airport is essential for the continued growth of Sioux Falls.

“An economy will plateau with the airport. If an airport stops growing and can’t grow anymore, so will the economy, so looking at how we can grow that airport over the next three, five, seven years is going to be a really important issue the community is going to have to tackle,” TenHaken said.

The Sioux Falls Airport Authority is already working with a design team planning for new gates at the airport. Airport director Dan Lettlier says it will be a struggle to add many more routes until they are able to add new gates; he expects that construction to begin in the next two years as long as funding is secured.