Senate Bill 162 could add new flight options to South Dakota

Outside Sioux Falls Airport
Outside Sioux Falls Airport(Dakota News Now)
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For those thinking about traveling later this year, there could be more direct flight options coming to South Dakota, thanks to new legislation.

Senate Bill 162 was passed by both chambers of the legislature and awaits Governor Noem’s signature.

The legislation would distribute funds to restore flights after several routes were cut last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Air travel was one of the hardest-hit industries, with fewer flights available due to the lack of people traveling.

If SB 162 is signed by Governor Noem, we could see a jump in flight options for South Dakota.

“All the airports in the state have been reeling from the COVID impact, people stopped traveling,” said Greg Jamison, House Representative for Sioux Falls and sponsor of SB 162.

It can take airlines almost a year to turn a profit on a new flight route, which can make some airlines think twice about adding new service options in more rural areas such as South Dakota.

This new legislation is aimed at convincing those airlines to take the risk.

“The general idea behind is you get a company like American Airlines and say why don’t you start a flight from Sioux Falls to Washington DC?” said Jamison. “They say, ‘Well that doesn’t make any sense there are not enough people in Sioux Falls to do that.’ So we entice them to say if you do that, we will offset any money that you lose up to a year.”

The bill not only hopes to restore lines that were lost during the pandemic but add some new flights to South Dakota.

“Adding just one route apparently creates a $4.4 million economic just in Sioux Falls, so if we get a couple of those going in Sioux Falls that investment of $1.9 million in this region is well suited to return dividends for years and years to come for all of us,” said Jamison.

Senate Bill 162 will appropriate $3.8 million for airport route restoration, business development, and air service marketing.

Travel consultant Terry Ten Cate with AAA says agents are getting more and more calls from people wanting to travel, but it can take some time for everything to get back to normal.

“I think you’re seeing a solid trend in the right direction, but I think that what’s going to end up happening is you’re going to wait until 2022, 2023 to see us get back to that full force again,” said Ten Cate.

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