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Hector International Airport: Driving Our Economy


A recent study by the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) found that aviation is a significant economic catalyst in North Dakota. Municipal Airport Authority - Hector International Airport is no exception.
Commercial passenger service began at Hector International in 1931 with Northwest Airlines. According to Executive Director Shawn Dobberstein, Fargo was the second site Northwest chose behind Chicago. The airport was governed by the City of Fargo until April 8, 1969, when the Municipal Airport Authority was created under state statute.
“The city felt that an airport authority would be better able to give their full time and attention to the airport,” says Dobberstein. “An airport plays a critical role in a community’s ability to generate business activity.”
Today Hector International Airport is the largest commercial service airport in the state of North Dakota. Four airlines operate flights out of the airport with destinations that include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. According to Dobberstein, the airport averages 30 commercial arrivals and departures per day. In 2010, the airport celebrated its third consecutive record-breaking year with over 732,000 total revenue passengers passing through Hector’s doors.
Aside from the commercial airline service, Hector International Airport is also used for a wide variety of aeronautical operations, including business activity, air cargo, medical flights and military operations. Their charter operations include the North Dakota State University football team, casinos, military personnel and even Cirque du Soleil when they performed at the FARGODOME in April.
Hector has 1023 full and part-time employees, a number that accounts for everyone that has business on the airport property says Dobberstein. The airport authority has a number of tenants, including Fargo Jet Center, Inc. and the Fargo Air Museum. But the airport’s relationships extend well beyond its tenants.
“We work very closely with the Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau, Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and The Chamber to gather current data on the business community,” says Dobberstein. “Our relationships with these organizations is critical to our success.”
It’s a success that’s having an impact on our local economy. According to the NDAC, 40 percent of airline passengers using Hector International Airport were visitors to the Fargo Moorhead region. It is estimated that these visitors contribute $52.8 million to the local economy.
“The airport plays a huge role in economic development. An airport helps a community to maintain and attract businesses,” says Dobberstein. “Here in Fargo Moorhead, we have a lot of globally connected businesses.”
This economic impact extends beyond the local economy. According to the NDAC study, Hector International Airport has the largest economic impact in the state, accounting for 40 percent of North Dakota’s airport related economic activity.
Currently, Hector International Airport is concentrating on retention of its air service. Yet, according to Dobberstein, they are always looking for new opportunities and new flights that will best serve the business community.
“The success of the airport and our ability to provide service is dependent on the support of the business community,” says Dobberstein. “Our relationship with them is vital. Without them, we won’t succeed.”

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