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Rapid City Regional Airport eyes $220M expansion

An excerpt from the October 11th Rapid City Regional Airport Board presentation.
An excerpt from the October 11th Rapid City Regional Airport Board presentation.

The Rapid City Regional Airport Board has approved a major expansion proposal adding more gates and other improvements to the facility.

The proposed expansion would take Rapid City Regional from seven gates to 12 total at an estimated cost of $220 million.

Toni Broom is the airport's deputy director of finance and administration. She said apart from those extra gates, passengers wouldn’t see most of the improvements.

“What we’re proposing to do is a lot of stuff that’s behind the scenes, so to speak," Broom said. "When we did the renovation in 2012 there was a lot of the more cosmetic – what the public sees, so they see this beautiful terminal – but behind the scenes, back in the baggage prep area and the screening area, that needs some modernization.”

Airport officials considered a smaller expansion before deciding on 12 gates.

“We’re trying to get more air carriers in here," Broom said. "The traveling public as we come out of Covid, they are still continuing to fly into Rapid City Regional Airport. With the (Ellsworth Airforce) Base expansion and the growth that we’re seeing, we believe that to properly serve our region here, we’re gonna need those full 12 gates.”

Broom said despite challenges of the last few years, the airport is in a strong position.

“We are a little bit behind from last year," Broom said. "2019 was a record-breaking year for us, and then in 2020 of course we hit Covid, and that did cut back our flights almost 50% - or our passenger loads at that time. In 2021 we saw a real good year again. We’re stable. I’d say we’re very stable right now.”

So far this year, Rapid City Regional has seen just under 437,000 total passengers, a decline of about 4.2% from 2021.

Correction: A previous version of this story understated Rapid City Regional's total passenger volume in 2022.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture