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Published March 22, 2012, 05:04 PM

Devils Lake Airport Boardings Way Down, But Director Says Dramatic Increase Expected

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - North Dakota airports had their busiest month ever, with more than 85,000 passengers boarding flights in the state.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - North Dakota airports had their busiest month ever, with more than 85,000 passengers boarding flights in the state.

But the Devils Lake airport is bucking that trend, still struggling after Delta stopped its essential air service to the city last year.

Only 217 people boarded flights in Devils Lake last month.

That's a 52 percent decrease from one year ago, but Airport Director John Nord says he expects that number to increase dramatically in the coming months.

After Delta pulled its service from the Devils Lake airport, travelers couldn't book a connecting flight from Devils Lake online. That finally changed last week, four months after Great Lakes airlines took over air service for the city.

"When you go to the website, you can, in fact find DVL and find a flight to anywhere in the country or the world," Airport Director John Nord said.

The Devils Lake Regional Airport serves the smallest customer base of any North Dakota airport. Nord says the airport needs every advantage to succeed.

"People now want to book online. When they don't have the opportunity to book online, they go elsewhere for their tickets," Nord said.

Even with the convenience, not everyone is lining up to fly Devils Lake.

Devils Lake resident Diane Togstad says she usually takes the train when she travels. She says her sister flies in to visit her often, but says ticket prices keep her from flying directly to Devils Lake.

"She's coming in to town next week, but it'll cost about 900 dollars to fly in here but only 400 to fly into Minot," Togstad said.

Nord says air fares are higher because the airport has yet to agree to a rate structure with Great Lakes. Once that happens, he says you'll see fairs comparable to other airports in the state.

"That's our problem here in Devils Lake. We are online now. Now we'll get the fares straightened out, and then we should be back in the ball game again," Nord said.

Nord says there is no timetable for when air fares will be finalized between the airport and Great Lakes airline.

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