Airportpros just published an article describing boom times at airports near shale oil fields such as the Bakken play in North Dakota. From the article:
“Today as rig workers, roughnecks and roustabouts flock to North Dakota to work on its nearly 200 drilling rigs, the explosion of activity has tapped more than the oil fields themselves. And, as communities in the heart of the oil patch find themselves in a frenzy to match infrastructure to the demands of a burgeoning population, the region’s airports struggle with the same…..Business is also booming at Sloulin Field International Airport, where in September the Williston-based airport saw a 247 percent jump in enplanements over September 2012; traffic this airport, located in the epicenter of the oil boom, was never meant to see, emphasizes Airport Manager Steven Kjergaard. “Our terminal was built to handle approximately 8,000 people a year,” he stresses, “and we’re doing that in a month!””
Most rural General Aviation airports can only dream of such activity, yet there still remain restrictions on exploration in many states. Most notable is in western New York, where just across the state line in Pennsylvania business is brisk as a result of the Marcellus play. Fracking is still not allowed in New York. Perhaps it is time for the managers and commissioners of G.A. airports struggling to survive to pay more attention to what is happening in parts of the country where fewer regulations are bringing prosperity and lower energy costs to all.