COVID-19 pandemic leads to a 52% decline in ND Airline Passengers in 2020


DEVILS LAKE - North Dakota’s eight commercial service airports finished calendar year 2020 with a statewide total of 572,093 airline passenger boardings.  This is a decrease of 619,476 passengers or an 52% decrease from 2019 and is the lowest passenger count that the state has recorded since calendar year 2003. 

North Dakota passenger numbers have been adversely affected since the beginning of the pandemic when the state experienced an immediate 95% percent decline in passenger numbers during the month of April.  Since that time, the state has been trending in a positive direction and has recovered to approximately 50% of pre-pandemic levels. 

The recent growth in demand has encouraged airlines to begin slowly adding back flights and seat capacity to our airports.  Today, North Dakota still has a high level of air service availability based upon historical standards as the state’s airports still provide the public with 10 non-stop destinations (three are seasonal). All eight of the commercial service airports in North Dakota also continue to provide their communities with reliable jet service. 

“Our airports rose to the challenge that this past year brought for the aviation industry which resulted in significant negative impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”  stated Kyle Wanner, Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.  “Our airports never closed and they quickly worked to implement recommended mitigations to help ensure that a safe environment exists for those who need to travel. They were also able to accommodate emergency related personnel and products to efficiently enter and depart our state.  As we look forward to 2021, I remain optimistic that airline passenger numbers will continue their current positive trend towards recovery.” 

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  Follow him on Twitter, @KWBOYER_DLJ.