As holiday season ramps up, airport parking ramp makes progress

By the time Thanksgiving travel arrives next year, you’ll be able to leave your vehicle in a completed parking ramp at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.

The construction crane is down for the four-level parking garage, most of the structural concrete is poured, and the plan is to get the ground level paved by Thanksgiving, airport executive director Dan Letellier said.

“They weren’t planning to do it until the spring, but they were far enough along with the tail end of paving season to get in there,” he said. “That will make their life a lot easier over the winter. They’ll have hard surface to park equipment on while they work on the rest of it.”

The precast skin is up on the north side and moving to the west side. The new elevator will be going in, “and across the street, next to the terminal where we’re bumping out the front to connect to the future skyway, there will be escalators and an elevator to get people up down easily,” Letellier said. “They have a lot of the steel going up with that and the escalators have showed up — usually you’re waiting for key materials like that — and they’re actually here.”

Those will be going up in the coming weeks, “so it’s moving right along,” Letellier said, adding that the goal is still to be done by late August or early September.

In the meantime, travelers will find another 500 spaces have been added to the airport’s economy lot and that shuttles are running from the lot to the terminal from 4 a.m. until the last flight comes in for the day.

“We’ll have plenty of parking,” Letellier said. “We’re more focused on February and March when we have peak parking … but we’ll have the same number of spaces we did last year … so hopefully we’ll get through that peak season, and next year we’ll have a whole parking garage to work with.”

Travel in October was up slightly over 2022, and for the year the airport is up 8 percent, he said.

“And last year was a record year, so we’re still well on track to finish 2023 with a record number of travelers.”

Thousands of them will be traveling in the coming days. Looking at advanced bookings, between 2,000 and 2,200 people are scheduled to travel Tuesday or Wednesday this week.

“A busy day would be 1,800 or 1,900, so that’s a lot of people traveling,” Letellier said. “Sunday will probably be in that 2,200 range for sure.”

For the holiday season, Allegiant Air is bringing back some seasonal destinations, including service to Nashville, Austin, Phoenix-Mesa, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Fort Lauderdale.

The airport also continues to plan for future needs with accelerated design to be ready in case federal funds allow for gate expansion. The hope is to add up to six gates at some point, but funding will drive feasibility and timing.

“We’re making significant progress,” Letellier said. “We’ve nailed down what we believe will be the ultimate configuration and layout, broken into four or five subphrases, and we’ll construct as funding becomes available.”