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Pierre Regional Airport requests direct Chicago flight

The Pierre City Commission would like to see the Capital connected with the Windy City.
 Courtesy Dakota Radio Group
Courtesy Dakota Radio Group (KSFY)
Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 8:13 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA) - Pierre Regional Airport is one of the smallest commercial airports across the entire country.

However, that airport could be on its way to adding a direct flight to and from Chicago.

“We are starting the process for our next Essential Air Service (EAS) contract,” said Jamie Huizenga, Pierre City Airport Commissioner. “Our request with the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) is to serve both Denver and Chicago.”

There are a number of EAS communities across America, Pierre being one of them. EAS cities are able to “endorse” certain service providers and destinations. If “approved” by the federal DOT, SkyWest will provide Pierre with 12 weekly flights split between Denver International and Chicago’s O’Hare airport. One-way tickets would average $110.

Along with the potential for service expansion, the airport is also undergoing several upgrades.

“We just wrapped up a taxi way project that was nearly a four million dollar project, and we have a parking lot addition that will be completed next summer,” said Cameron Howard, Pierre Airport Manager.

The airport plays an important part in providing rural health care for central South Dakota, and for bringing tourists and hunters to the Rushmore state. Being connected to Chicago would only further open central South Dakota up to the world.

“From Pierre to Chicago is very critical,” says Huizenga. “From Chicago, you can jump on the next flight and be anywhere in the world in hours, certainly in America. (So) from Pierre, you could be anywhere in the world in a series of hours.”

A decision on if that flight to Chicago might become a reality is expected sometime after January 1st, 2021.