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North Dakota airport adds options for travellers, but won’t phase YQR boss

WATCH: A new American airport close to the US border offers new options for Sask. travelers, but the Regina Int'l Airport CEO isn't worried about losing business.

As of last month, travelers from southern Saskatchewan have a new option when it comes to booking flights.

The Williston Basin International Airport (XWA), located outside of Williston, North Dakota, opened up on October 10. The new airport, which is about a three hour drive from Regina (one hour and 45 minutes from Estevan) will offer five flights per day. Delta Air Lines will operate two daily flights to Minneapolis, Minnesota, while United Airlines will fly three times daily to Denver, Colorado.

Both cities are major hubs for their respective airlines.

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“Southern Saskatchewan is absolutely part of our region and we want to be able to provide the options that population base may be looking for,” said Williston Airport director Anthony Dudas. “If people from southern Saskatchewan are looking for those types of connections we feel like we’re very well located.”

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Williston Basin International Airport replaced another in the region – Sloulin Field International Airport – which was aging and unable to accommodate commercial aircraft seating more than 50 people. The push for the creation of a more modern facility was partly motivated by Williston’s rapid growth. The city’s population has more than doubled over the past decade, largely thanks to its proximity to significant energy resource deposits.

Dudas says the new facilities will help reduce operational costs for large airlines and he’s already seen a decrease in fares as a result.

“The most recent statistic that was brought to my attention is that our fares, even in the last quarter, have gone down 15 per cent.” he said. “Without the limitations we had with our former facility their costs should continue to go down.”

Dudas says one of the airport’s goals is to attract airlines to fly to directly to “leisure” destinations like Las Vegas, Arizona and Florida.

READ MORE: Regina airport tax exemption improves chances of attracting U.S. airlines

A price comparison, completed November 8, 2019, comparing flight fares to popular US destinations from Regina and Williston, North Dakota.
A price comparison, completed November 8, 2019, comparing flight fares to popular US destinations from Regina and Williston, North Dakota. Global News

The new competition doesn’t seem to phase Regina International Airport President & CEO James Bogusz though. Speaking to Global News Wednesday, he said competing with American runways is nothing new to Canadian airports.

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“There are many, many airports close to the border all over the country – in Minot, North Dakota, Williston and maybe more in the future,” said Bogusz. “At the end of the day customers are going to choose where they fly from and this particular airport, I wouldn’t treat any differently. Best of luck to all.”

He did, though, point out one benefit of flying locally.

“We remind the public that this is their asset. When they use the Regina airport they grow the local economy.”