Airport officials were concerned earlier this year with a dropoff in passengers at Rapid City Regional Airport. The Black Hills Air Service Partnership held an air travel summit in May to find ways to increase passengers at the Rapid City airport.
One of the solutions suggested was to add flights. The announcement last week of a weekly flight to Atlanta should help boost travel at the airport.
Beginning this summer, Delta Airlines will add a Saturday flight from Atlanta to Rapid City and returning to Atlanta. When operational, the flight will become the seventh major hub with connections to the Rapid City airport.
The air travel summit was held to look for answers after total passengers fell to 533,000 last year from a 2010 peak of 610,000 passengers. The concern was that if airport use continued to drop, airlines may pull out of the Rapid City market. The announcement by Delta is a positive signal that Delta is committed to serving Rapid City by adding a flight.
Currently, four airlines serve the Rapid City airport: Allegiant, with flights to and from Las Vegas and Phoenix; American Airlines flies to and from Chicago and Dallas; Delta, with flights to Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and, starting in June, Atlanta; and United Express, flying to Denver, Chicago and Houston.
That’s a pretty good lineup of airlines and destinations, and the addition of an Atlanta flight connects Rapid City with the Southeastern U.S. and connecting flights to the East Coast.
Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world, with flights to 207 destinations, including 61 international destinations in 43 countries. That means that passengers flying out of Rapid City are one flight away from connecting with all the destinations that reach Atlanta.
Airport Director Cameron Humphres has good reason to be pleased with adding Atlanta as a hub airport connection. “Anytime an airport can connect to more hubs, it offers more travel options for passengers from the Black Hills area and those coming to the Black Hills,” he said.
Congratulations are in order to the airport board and the Black Hills Air Service Partnership for their work in securing the Atlanta flight. Hopefully, the added connection will translate into an increase in passengers flying into and out of Rapid City.