Thursday marks the start of a brand new airport in the epicenter of North Dakota’s oil boom, as the first flight will land at the new Williston Basin International Airport (XWA).
Forbes reports that United Flight 4643 from Denver (DEN) will land at the new airport. It replaces Williston’s old airport called Sloulin Field International (ISN),where its last flight took off Thursday.
Building a brand new airport is relatively rare in today’s world of travel. Airports are always growing and renovating, adding terminals, and sometimes even a new runway. An entirely new facility is typically a last resort.
But in this case, it was necessary. The runway at Williston’s old airport was had weak pavement and was in dire need of replacement. Worse still, it slanted with a 90-foot difference from end-to-end, preventing any planes with more than 50 seats from taking off or landing.
“We regularly have to bump 15 of the 50 passengers off,” said Anthony Dudas, the airport’s director. “This happens two or three times a week throughout the year,” he said.
Local officials considered replacing the old Williston airport, but the prospect of closing off a critical access point to the Bakken oil boom made that impossible.
“We are in the middle of the Bakken boom,” project developer Don Cardon said. “We couldn’t shut down for two or three years.”
Lead rendering courtesy of Williston Basin International Airport