Would direct flights to North Dakota oil fields be worth it? - KOTA Territory News

Would direct flights to North Dakota oil fields be worth it?


There's no doubt the Bakken Oil boom in North Dakota is having an affect on KOTA Territory, including Rapid City. Not only on our economy, but also travel in the area.
Driving from here to the oil fields could be as much as a 12 hour round trip, leading many to ask about flying there.

Businesses and workers alike are flocking to North Dakota. Now, many business leaders and workers alike are asking for flights, but it's not that easy to get an airline to fly there.

"I think there would be a good opportunity for someone to do some flights up to Williston," says Mike Derby, a Real Estate Broker for Coldwell Banker who heads up to North Dakota on a weekly basis.
"It's a five to six hour drive each way," says Derby. And there and back means twelve hours round trip.
"I usually spend three to five days at a time up there. But there are times when I only need to be up there for a day. And so having a quick flight up and back would be very beneficial," says Derby. And he isn't alone.
"There's a number of businesses in Rapid City particularly in the machine industry where their sales people are going back and forth quite a bit," says Derby.
Cameron Humphres, Executive Director of Rapid City Regional Airport says the oil fields are creating a lot of traffic between North and South Dakota.
"South Dakota Department of Transportation traffic data shows somewhere around 1,800 cars per day driving between Rapid City and Williston, ND," says Humphrey.
But if flights were available, it doesn't mean all those people would fly.
"That's really the heart of the question. Of all the people driving to and from Williston everyday, how many of them would convert over to flying on an aircraft?" says Humphrey.
Derby says he would jump on the opportunity, but not for every trip.
"I would probably use it once a month, you have to do a little cost benefit analysis. So if you had an airfare in that 500 to 600 range then I think cost analysis would make sense for you to fly up," says Derby.
Humphrey says for cheap flights, planes need to be full, "Airlines are in the business of making money. And the only way they can make money is consistent demand between two cities."
Which could benefit companies doing major projects in the area, since time is money.
"It'd be a very short flight, it'd be very easy to do in one day, I think it would be used, you don't' want to overdo it. But I would say two to three flights a week to Williston you could probably fill," says Derby.

And to determine the demand for these flights Humphrey says they look at many factors, how many cars are rented, how many bus tickets are bought, and how many people fly to North Dakota via Denver.
It is possible to charter a flight to Williston. However, Mike Derby says there needs to be five or six people on such flight to get the ticket price down to that $500 -$700 dollar level.

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