Delta adds Williston-Twin Cities connectionDelta Air Lines is adding jet service between Williston and Minneapolis-St. Paul, making it the second major airline to add service to the Oil Patch hub.
By: By Amy Dalrymple , Forum Communications , The Jamestown Sun
WILLISTON, N.D. — Delta Air Lines is adding jet service between Williston and Minneapolis-St. Paul, making it the second major airline to add service to the Oil Patch hub.
Delta’s twice-daily, nonstop jet service will begin Nov. 12, Sen. John Hoeven announced Monday at Williston’s Sloulin Field International Airport during a visit to the Bakken.
“Western North Dakota, certainly led by Williston and the whole region, is leading the way for energy development in this country,” Hoeven said. “But with that comes real impacts. So we have to really continue to make sure that we have infrastructure, air service, quality of life.”
United Airlines announced in July it will add jet service from Williston to Denver starting Nov. 4.
Before those jets can land, however, the Federal Aviation Administration needs to sign off on an environmental assessment, said airport manager Steven Kjergaard.
He anticipates the FAA will complete its review by the end of the month or in early October.
The airport also is adding a temporary trailer to triple the size of its secure area to accommodate the new passengers, Kjergaard. That work should be complete by the end of October, he said.
“It’s going to be a challenge in this current facility that we have,” Kjergaard said.
City officials are working with the Federal Aviation Administration on plans for a new airport or an expansion of the current airport. An environmental assessment on the possible sites is expected to be complete early next year, Kjergaard said.
Williston’s airport has seen a huge increase in traffic as a result of the oil boom.
In 2005, Williston’s airport averaged 500 to 600 boardings each month. Now a typical month has 2,700 to 3,000 boardings. Kjergaard has estimated that the numbers only capture about 25 percent of the Williston market, with many people driving to airports in Minot, Bismarck or elsewhere.
Delta Connection will partner with Skywest Airlines to offer the flights with 50-seat jet aircraft.
Delta has scheduled two outbound flights daily from Williston to Minneapolis-St. Paul, a morning flight departing at 7 a.m. arriving in Minneapolis at 8:25 a.m., and an afternoon flight departing at 2:45 p.m. and arriving in Minneapolis at 4:26 p.m. Inbound flights will depart from Minneapolis-St. Paul at 11:30 a.m. arriving in Williston at 1:28 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. arriving at 9:32 p.m.
Delta Air Lines also is exploring purchasing North Dakota crude oil to use at the company’s recently acquired Philadelphia-based refinery. The airline is the only major U.S. carrier that owns its own refinery to produce the jet fuel needed to operate its fleet.
Hoeven made the announcement during a press conference with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who is touring the Bakken this week.
Amy Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch.