Fargo, ND -- Fargo's Hector International Airport is on pace for a record year. Executive Director Shawn Dobberstein tells WZFG Radio that 43,000 people traveled through Hector in July, and year to date the airport is 10.4% ahead of last year's pace. There have been 470,000 air travelers at Hector through the end of July, besting the all-time high of 448,900 set back in 2014. Dobberstein credits larger aircraft with more seats, and low fuel prices leading to lower fares. He adds that low-frills airlines Frontier and Allegiant are gaining traction and trust with the public as well.
Dobberstein says service complaints have decreased recently, as United Ground Crew operations are under new management with increased wages that have drawn a higher quality of employee. He says the pilot shortage will continue to be an issue nationwide, even though enrollments at flight schools such as the University of North Dakota are on the rise. Dobberstein says a large number of pilots are expected to retire in the near future, which figures to outpace new pilots entering the field. He says he is part of a coalition of airport directors working with the Federal Aviation Administration to facilitate a faster pathway for new pilots to enter the workforce.