SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The Sioux Falls Regional Airport sees between 1,600 and 1,700 passengers per day. Right now, it offers services from big airlines like United and Delta, but there's a well-known one that's noticeably missing.
The executive director of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport said he has worked with Southwest Airlines to try to get the company in the city. But Sioux Falls hasn't had the population to support it.
"Up until the last couple of years, they didn't go into any city with fewer than 10 flights a day," Dan Letellier said, the executive director of the airport. "That's over 1,600 seats per day. That equals all of our seats combined right now."
Over the next couple of years, Letellier said Southwest plans to switch out old planes with new ones.
"Once they do have all of their allotment, I think they'll look for some opportunities in markets they don't serve," he said.
That could be a market like Sioux Falls. The airline has also changed some of its labor agreements, which will help it land in the city. Right now, Southwest is testing out three flights per day in Des Moines, IA.
"We're hoping that works out well for them," Letellier said. "It's kind of a test market that would bode well for us down the road, at least getting a few flights per day."
Southwest only offers one type of aircraft, so that limits what markets the airline can fly into. The shortage of pilots could also affect the company's timeline in Sioux Falls. But Letellier said the airport will keep trying because it will be beneficial for passengers.
"More seats, more flight options, more frequency, but probably just as important, more competition," he said.
Sioux Falls likely won't see Southwest for another couple of years though. The airport has been trying to get Southwest in Sioux Falls for more than ten years.
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