In a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta, Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, and Congressman Kevin Cramer today asked the agency to support vital airport expansion projects in Minot, Williston and Dickinson. All of these cities are experiencing rapid population growth and record boardings as a consequence of expanding energy development. The full text of the letter follows:
"North Dakota continues to experience unprecedented economic growth statewide, including robust oil and gas development in western North Dakota's oil patch," the delegation wrote. "As a result, many of our state's airports are reporting record boarding numbers. Last year, passenger boardings in Minot were up 49 percent and in December Williston set a boarding record of 6,190, a 120 percent increase over December 2011.
"Similarly, 2012 boardings in Dickinson saw an increase of 26 percent over 2011. While this rapid growth has many benefits, existing aviation infrastructure is being significantly strained. In these communities airport expansion efforts are underway to help meet both existing and future demand for air service.
"While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization signed into law in February 2012 has provided the FAA and the aviation community with long-term certainty important to development and investment, we recognize federal dollars remain limited. At the same time, we believe that the great need in North Dakota warrants additional federal attention.
"As North Dakota, the number two oil-producing state in the nation, helps to provide fuel and electricity for our nation, impacts on the aviation infrastructure of this region must be addressed. Investment in our state's aviation system by the FAA through Airport Improvement Program discretionary awards is critical for long-term growth and development.
"We look forward to continuing to work with you, the FAA, the state of North Dakota, and local communities to address the aviation infrastructure needs in North Dakota. Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter."