WILLISTON, N.D. — To a round of thunderous applause, The Williston Basin International Airport is open for business.

The story of XWA has been one of complications, delays and last minute preparation, but also of the indomitable spirit of the Williston community, specifically its city leaders, who have worked for nearly a decade to get the airport operational.

In a serendipitous twist of fate, a delay actually added to the story of the airport. The United Airlines flight that was scheduled to be the first into the new facility was delayed in Denver due to weather issues, making Delta Connections from Minneapolis the first plane to land. That plane, the first commercial flight into Williston's state-of-the-art new airport, was piloted Williston native Elliott Monson.

As the first flight touched down, there were cheers and handshakes from city and airport officials. Smiling from ear to ear, Airport Director Anthony Dudas stood watching as the plane taxied up to the terminal, where passengers were greeted by Mayor Howard Klug and the rest of the City Commission, who handed out commemorative coins welcoming new arrivals as the first passengers into XWA.

"I've waited for this moment for 10 years," Klug said.