- Associated Press - Monday, October 3, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - More residents of South Dakota’s largest city are no longer traveling to other Midwest cities to catch a flight.

The Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/2doUMeo ) reported that in 2009, the Sioux Falls Regional Airport captured about 55 percent of the city’s market share of passengers. Since then the figure has increased to 86 percent.

An air service committee established several years ago marketed to potential travelers living within a 90-minute drive of Sioux Falls, focusing on the convenience of flying out of the city and airport improvements, such as more parking.

“What we really learned was increased destinations, increased number of flights are absolutely a function of people in seats,” said Dr. Dave Kapaska, regional president and CEO of Avera McKennan and a member of the committee. “We took an approach that if people in seats were most important, how could we help with that?”

The airport also enhanced its U.S. Customs area, according to Kapaska it allows companies with a significant international footprint an important access point.

“Customs at the airport is very important for Canadian and Mexican business, but even Japan, China, Korea, we do a lot of business with those folks,” Kapaska said.

The airport also included charter flights to countries that have been pre-approved by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to fly directly to and from Sioux Falls. Some of the destinations would include Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.

Minneapolis draws 7.6 percent of the Sioux Falls market. That’s more than Omaha, which has dropped to drawing 5.5 percent of Sioux Falls passengers.

Airport officials predict its annual capacity will be up 6 percent year-over-year by next spring. They hope to also attract direct service to Seattle and possibly add Alaska Airlines.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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