Grand Forks International Airport Receives Commercial Service Award

March 14, 2022

Mar. 11—GRAND FORKS — Following a busy recent period of continuing construction projects, Grand Forks International Airport has been recognized as that state's "2021 Commercial Service Airport of the Year."

According to a release from the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, GFK administrators were presented with the award at the FLY-ND aviation conference this week, in Fargo. Ryan Riesinger, executive director of GFK, accepted the award on behalf of the Grand Forks Airport Authority, airport staff and tenants. The Commercial Service Airport Award is sponsored by the state Aeronautics Commission, in partnership with the Airport Association of North Dakota.

"We have made great progress over the past year and I only see brighter and busier days ahead," said Riesinger.

At the aviation conference, Riesinger also recognized Rick Audette, operations and maintenance manager at GFK, for his 40 years of service.

The release noted that airline passenger traffic across the country is continuing its slow recovery, but GFK has been ahead of the curve in terms of its operations. Flight activity by UND Aerospace students propelled the airport to be ranked as the nation's busiest airport on 11 occasions between March 1 and May 26. The airport was ranked the 12th busiest airport in the nation in 2021, with 349,405 takeoffs and landings.

GFK experienced its busiest day of passenger traffic in the airport's history on Oct. 28, when 1,500 UND hockey fans flew directly to Nashville, Tennessee, for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game. To coordinate the flights, GFK administrators worked with the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Allegiant Airlines and local travel agencies.

" Grand Forks International Airport is congratulated for a tremendous year of accomplishments," reads a portion of the Aeronautics Commission's release.

Accomplishments in 2021 also include a number of construction-related projects taken to improve the airport's services and capabilities. After a year-long environmental assessment and a period of time spent negotiating with nearby landowners, the airport acquired land to accommodate for the expansion of its crosswind runway. In October, work began on relocating a portion of County Road 5 west of the airport, for the runway project.

Additionally, several new hangars soon will be constructed to house local private aircraft. The airport has also been working closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop a new Customs and Border Protection facility, and a new air traffic control tower is under design by the Federal Aviation Administration. GFK also has acquired several new firefighting and snow removal vehicles to enhance safety at the airfield.


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