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Grand Forks International Airport plans to use passenger charge for equipment purchases, building construction

Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority executive director Patrck Dame leans against a snowblower that is due for replacement and stored in the new maintenance center at the Grand Forks airport. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 2
The Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority is hoping to build a new rescue and firefighting building at the airport. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 2

Airline passengers may soon be helping the Grand Forks International Airport fund some improvements and equipment purchases.

The Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority plans to submit an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to use a $4.50 passenger facility charge to fund the projects. The charge is already in place, and the new terminal is among the projects it has helped fund.

Airport Executive Director Patrick Dame said a new application is needed because different projects are being slated for funding.

Those projects include purchasing a runway sander, rotary blower and chassis with a plow for snow removal, construction of a new snow removal equipment building, reconstructing a taxiway, and constructing an aircraft rescue and firefighting building.

The total collection for the projects is expected to reach $1.87 million, according to a public notice posted in the Herald. But federal money also will be needed to complete at least some of the projects, Dame said.

Dame said the charge is already capped at $4.50 per enplanement.

“There aren’t too many airports in the country today that are commercial service airports that don’t charge a PFC,” he said. “We use this as a mechanism to try to fund infrastructure development.”

Mary Jo Crystal, the airport’s director of finance and administration, said she expects to hear back from the FAA on the PFC application this year. Public comments should be sent to the airport no later than Aug. 29, according to the notice.


The largest portion of the PFC application request is snow removal equipment, which includes a new snowblower.

The airport has two snowblowers from the 1980s, Dame said. The airport spent $87,000 on repairing one of them in the past couple of years, so having a new one will mean more reliability and fewer repairs.

“Our equipment costs are substantial,” Dame said. The PFC will raise $1.1 million for the snow removal equipment, according to the public notice.

The snow removal equipment building has already been built and is in use, but the passenger facility charge funds will help the airport reimburse construction costs, Dame said.

The taxiway reconstruction project will involve revamping a five-way intersection north of the terminal. The FAA views such intersections as a safety issue, Dame said.

The airport received word earlier this year it would receive a $4.1 million federal grant to help with that project. The PFC is estimated to raise more than $280,000.

Airport officials are also hoping to use more than $304,000 in PFC funds to help construct a new aircraft rescue and firefighting building, which will be connected to the snow removal equipment building constructed earlier this year north of the terminal.

The current building wasn’t meant for firefighting purposes, but was converted to an ARFF station in 1990, Dame said.

“So the facility has basically been made to work as an ARFF station,” he said. “It was never built to accommodate the number of people that we have in it.”

Dame added the project will also help centralize their operations.

“With the exception of the administrative offices being in the terminal, that gives us the central location for all airport staff,” Dame said. 

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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