Airport Business - 26

AUTHOR Anthony Dudas

Williston Takes

A new airport project in North Dakota provides a
glimpse at modern airport development.
GROUND-UP NEW commercial airport projects are
relatively rare. Which is why the new Williston
Basin International Airport (XWA), opening this
Fall in Williston, North Dakota, represents such an
intriguing opportunity to explore the obstacles and
opportunities that are a part of any aviation project
of this size and complexity.
From the unique way the project
team came together, to challenges
ranging from a skilled trades gap
to working around North Dakota's
extreme weather, XWA provides a
fascinating behind-the-scenes look
at what it takes to bring a ground-up
airport project to fruition in today's
day and age.

A sorely needed facility
XWA is the first ground-up airport built
in the region in nearly three quarters
of a century. The facility it will be
functionally replacing is Sloulin Field
International Airport, which dates to
1947. The outdated airport has exhibited
significant wear and tear over 72 years,
from a primary runway in need of


Anthony Dudas is the Airport Director
for the new Williston Basin International
Airport opening in Wiliston, ND this
fall. For more information, visit www.

reconstruction, to an incapability of
handling the increased volume of traffic
in recent years. Sloulin was designed
for small propeller-driven aircraft with
30 passengers or less. When Delta and
United both commenced jet service to
the airport in 2012, the 50-passenger
regional jets were more than twice
the weight of what the runway was
designed to handle. The result was severe
pavement degradation and skyrocketing
maintenance costs. A correspondingly
dramatic uptick in enplanements in 2012
brought the annual average of around
10,000 passengers to a remarkable
120,000 by 2014. While the commercial
terminal had been built in 2005, it was
simply unequipped for 10 times the
capacity it had been designed to handle.
While activity slowed somewhat in
2016-2017, Delta recently added a third
f light from Williston, United added
a fourth, and the resulting 39 percent
increase in seats that are f lying out of
the facility in 2019 once again makes
Williston one of the 10 fastest-growing
airports in the nation.
Add in the fact that the site
was surrounded by businesses and
residential development that limited


expansion options. Uneven terrain,
including a 90-foot elevation change
from one end of the runway to another,
also adversely impacted aircraft takeoff
performance. The need for an entirely
new airport was clear.

Yesterday and
XWA Airport leadership contributed to
the conversation about the design of the
new airfield and related infrastructure.
The goal was to create a "right-sized"
facility that would meet the region's
needs today, while maintaining critical
flexibility for future expansion if needed.
The new airport terminal, built on 1,600
acres 10 miles northwest of Williston, is
around 100,000 square feet-almost 10
times the size of its predecessor.

Labor and logistics
Work began on the project in 2010.
When operations commence on Oct.10,
it will be the fastest commercial service
airport relocation since World War II.
This extremely aggressive schedule
required assembling and managing a
large team of professional service firms.

Airport Business

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Airport Business

Inside the Fence
Industry Update
On the Wild Side
Change for Good
Cover Story: Economy Inflight
Williston Takes Flight
Enhance Airport and Airline Relations
FBOs and OEMs: Strange Bedfellows
Airport Guru
Solid Answers for Successful Airports
Product Focus
Animal Control on the Runway
Airport Business - 1
Airport Business - 2
Airport Business - 3
Airport Business - 4
Airport Business - 5
Airport Business - 6
Airport Business - Inside the Fence
Airport Business - Industry Update
Airport Business - 9
Airport Business - 10
Airport Business - 11
Airport Business - On the Wild Side
Airport Business - 13
Airport Business - 14
Airport Business - 15
Airport Business - Change for Good
Airport Business - 17
Airport Business - 18
Airport Business - 19
Airport Business - Cover Story: Economy Inflight
Airport Business - 21
Airport Business - 22
Airport Business - 23
Airport Business - 24
Airport Business - 25
Airport Business - Williston Takes Flight
Airport Business - 27
Airport Business - Enhance Airport and Airline Relations
Airport Business - 29
Airport Business - 30
Airport Business - 31
Airport Business - FBOs and OEMs: Strange Bedfellows
Airport Business - 33
Airport Business - Airport Guru
Airport Business - 35
Airport Business - Solid Answers for Successful Airports
Airport Business - 37
Airport Business - Product Focus
Airport Business - 39
Airport Business - Animal Control on the Runway
Airport Business - 41
Airport Business - 42
Airport Business - 43
Airport Business - 44