Dan Letellier, Sioux Falls Regional Airport executive director, welcomes Justin Weise, of Sioux Falls, back to town as the Sioux Falls Regional Airport's millionth passenger this year Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016, at the airport in Sioux Falls. Letellier presented Weise with a basket filled with two roundtrip ticket vouchers from Allegiant Airlines, a $500 gift card and free parking.
Justin Weise is one in a million.
After spending two weeks vacationing in Florida with his two children and fiancée, Weise returned home Thursday and was greeted as the millionth passenger this year to travel through the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
“I’m surprised,” the 26-year-old said. “I never would have guessed coming home and being the millionth passenger.”
It was a surprise for Weise but for airport officials the milestone was a matter of when not if. The airport has seen steady growth for years but always fallen just short of a million passengers.
Weise, who received two free round-trip vouchers from Allegient Airlines and a $500 gift card, said he isn’t a frequent flyer and that this was only his third trip aboard an airplane. He and his fiancée will be planning another trip now that their tickets have already been taken care of.
Dan Leterllier, executive direction of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, said they’ve been eyeing the milestone for several years now. He said despite the numbers getting off to the slow start at the beginning of the year, they were still able reach the record.
Airport officials said they’ve seen about a 3 percent annual growth in passengers travelling through building each of the last six years. In 2015, the airport saw 980,000 travelers and sees an average of 1,750 daily seats and 150 weekly flights, according to airport officials.
This was the first time they hit 1 million.
Leterllier attributed reaching the milestone to the growing population in Sioux Falls and more people traveling to the city to use the airport as its departure destination.
“We’ve looked at this the last couple of year and have been getting closer and closer,” Leterllier said. “Along with the recent changes and terminal updates at the airport, this is a big milestone for (the airport).”