BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji Regional Airport had a slight, but steady, increase in total passengers traveling to and from the First City on the Mississippi in 2019.
According to Assistant Airport Director Kyle Christiansen, the airport had 31,268 passengers departing in 2019 and 30,558 arriving for a total of 61,826. The number comes in just above the 2018 number of 61,430 passengers.
The number of passengers has continually increased over the past decade, with a total count of 51,000 in 2016. According to Christiansen, the number of departing and arriving passengers are usually similar, and in 2013, the airport had 22,635 departing, for a total near 44,000.
Along with a steady traffic through the terminal, the airport also was a busy site because of construction projects. Christiansen said work is continuing on three new buildings, with each containing airplane hangars.
Two of the buildings will include five smaller hangars, referred to as "T-hangars" and the third structure will hold four larger hangars.
"Our hangar project is still ongoing," Christiansen said. "We've had a busier construction year than most years, but that should be done within the next couple of months. We've also done some rehab work to our apron in front of our terminal."
The project, estimated at $2.4 million, is one of several at the airport over the last few years. In 2017, the airport completed its new on-site snow equipment building. The structure replaced the former snow equipment building, which was aging and provided little space for employees.
In 2018, a new taxiway was constructed, and in 2019, work began on a new 84,000 square-foot apron, or ramp, connected to the taxiway. The intention is for businesses to develop and build private hangars adjacent to the new ramp.
"The apron project had work start in the fall and the contract included a start and a stop," Christiansen said. "So, the crew ran into cold weather in the fall. They'll start again in the fall and finish that quick."