GRAND FORKS — Airport staff report a record number of airplanes departures and arrivals Thursday, June 18, despite a lack of airline travelers.
According to the Washington Post, airlines reported a record low traffic due to the coronavirus in April, but traffic is up nearly 400 percent in June.
Since the first confirmed coronavirus case in North Dakota during mid-March, Grand Forks airport staff chose to combat the lack of business from the general public by partnering with the University of North Dakota's flight school. Based in Grand Forks, the UND flight school began operating May 29 after closing mid-March. This month, 95% of the flights out of Grand Forks are from the flight school.
Executive Director of the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority Ryan Riesinger said with the pandemic decreasing commercial flights, airports with flight schools are able to operate with high traffic despite travelers' changing habits.
"As the airlines resume more of their operations throughout the country you'll see more of those major hub airports start to increase as well," he said.
The Grands Forks International Airport had 1,286 flights, the highest number in the U.S. for June 18, while Dallas Fort-Worth airport came in second at 1,079.
In fact, the aerospace program operates one of the largest aircraft fleets in the country, allowing Gran Forks airport to make it into the top five busiest airports several times during June.