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Wed, Mar 21, 2007

Sioux Falls Airport To Get Needed Improvements

FSD Aims To Attract More Passengers, Airlines

South Dakota's Sioux Falls Regional Airport will soon see a major upgrade, aimed at attracting low-cost carriers and new customers.

"We're going to build some taxi ways for $3 million and we're going to create some more spots for airplanes," said Mike Marnach, airport manager.

The upgrade will focus on improving customer experience in areas such as more ticket counters and an expanded baggage claim area. A larger parking lot has already been constructed, and the airport is in negotiations with a carrier.

"I'm optimistic Frontier will choose to come to Sioux Falls some time in 2007," Marnach said.

Other improvements include expanding cargo areas by moving an existing maintenance building and updating current runways to meet FAA specifications according to South Dakota's KELO-11.

Funds for the improvements will come from airport patrons, Marnach said.

"If you don't come to the airport you never have to pay for the airport. It's not funded by general tax dollars, it's funded with user fees and ticket taxes," he added.

A 20-year "master plan" has been designed to efficiently utilize the estimated $3 million per year it will take in using this system.

"This plan makes sure we spend it on the right things at the right time," he said.

Growing demand has dictated many of the new changes. About 358,000 passengers utilized this airport in 2005. This number is expected to increase to 420,000 within five years and to 645,000 within 20 years.

2006 saw all-time boarding records set 371,659. The airport is currently served by Delta Connections, Allegiant Air, United Express, Northwest and Northwest Airlink.

FMI: www.sfairport.com

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