HIBBING — Range Regional Airport saw its highest single-month passenger count in July, surpassing the July 1998 rate.

The Chisholm-Hibbing Airport Authority reported 1,788 departing passengers from Range Regional Airport, a 9 percent growth over the same time last year.

This news follows that from February when the airport reported that it saw a 12 percent increase in passenger traffic in 2018.

For each of the past five years, the airport has seen an average annual growth of 8 percent, resulting in the airline terminal parking lot being recently expanded.

“The strong reliability provided by the airlines and the tremendous support by regional businesses and travelers contributes to such a great success,” said Shaun J. Germolus, executive director of the airport authority, over email Thursday. “At this year's pace, we should see over 18,000 passengers depart the airport. Numbers not experienced since the early 1990s.”

Range Regional Airport has services provided SkyWest Airlines, which is operated through Delta Connection, and Sun Country Airlines.

“There is an increase of businesses and travelers continuously commenting on the convenience and cost savings experienced by flying locally,” Germolus said.

The Chisholm-Hibbing Airport Authority has identified three factors leading to this growth, according to a recent press release: “a state-of-the-art terminal facility constructed in 2015; professional airline partners providing on-time service and competitive rates; and passengers recognizing the cost benefits of flying local — saving time and money.”

The Range Regional Airport is following regional, national and international trends as numbers of airline passengers increase.

“We had a very good 2018,” said Natalie Peterson, the communication and marketing director for Duluth International Airport over the phone Thursday. “Our passenger numbers were up 5 percent this first quarter over 2018. With the addition of American Airlines this May, we are in an even better position. We have three major carriers which is very rare for a regional airport.”

Nationally, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, under the United States Department of Transportation, reported the total number of passengers on United States scheduled airlines this June (the most recently released date) was about 76.8 million passengers, both domestic and international flights. This is a one year increase of 2.5 percent and one month increase of 0.4 percent.

Globally, it’s expected that 2019 will set new records for the number of scheduled passengers at almost 4.6 billion. According to Statista.com, scheduled passengers are those who have booked a flight on a commercial airline and these global numbers have increased all but one of the past 15 years.

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