February 2021 Pierre Mayor's Report
There are big things happening at the airport, and a couple of big question marks too.
Let’s start with the stuff we know.
Airport Road from Lowell Avenue east past the airport terminal to the FedEx approach will be completely rebuilt this upcoming construction season. That stretch of road will get new storm water drainage, a new asphalt surface, and a sidewalk will be installed on the south side of the road. To accommodate traffic throughout the construction project, a detour road will be built to connect South Airport Road and Piper Street.
The engineering is already underway, and we hope to bid the construction work this spring.
Also, already in the works is a new airport parking lot. It will add 40 new spots. The lot will be just northwest of the terminal adjacent to the current parking area. The $200,000 project will be led by R&W Construction. Weather pending, construction will start this spring.
Both of these projects should set us up well for a post-pandemic boost in air travel. We saw our enplanements take a major dip during the early throes of COVID -bottoming out in April with just 41 people flying out of Pierre during the entire month. Things steadily crept back up to a high of 1,040 passengers in November. We ended the year with about 8,100 enplanements.
With the vaccine upon us, we’re hoping for a full rebound in air travel this year. And we’re also hoping a new three-year contract with SkyWest / United Express will be in place to help aid in the recovery.
As you might remember, in February 2019, the USDOT inked a two-year essential air service (EAS) contract with SkyWest / United Express to serve the Pierre Regional Airport. That agreement will expire in April. In November, the City Commission recommended the USDOT again select SkyWest / United Express to serve Pierre. We also recommended a direct flight between Pierre and Chicago be added to the existing Pierre-Denver route. We’re anxiously awaiting the USDOT’s decision and awarding of a new EAS contract for Pierre.
When we know more, you’ll know more. Until then, we’ll keep doing our part to keep our airport welcoming and successful.