New $273M International Airport Opens in North Dakota

The new-from-the-ground-up facility will serve the region’s robust oil and gas industries. XWA Airport

It is always refreshing to see new airport infrastructure open, especially when it is a completely new facility like the sparkling Williston Basin International Airport (XWA) in North Dakota, which opens October 9. The $273 million airport will provide needed capacity for business and commercial aviation now, with room for future expansion.

The new airport was a “from the ground up” construction project and is located 10 miles northwest of Williston. XWA Airport Director Anthony Dudas made the announcement that the project marked the fastest commercial service airport relocation since World War II. It took just three years from groundbreaking to today’s opening for the airport and all supporting infrastructure to be built.

“The opening of the Williston Basin International Airport is a monumental achievement that will greatly help to serve our growing population and business community in western North Dakota,” said Kyle Wanner, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission executive director. “The state is proud to have partnered with the federal and local governments by investing $55 million into this incredible facility, one that will enhance the state's ability to safely and efficiently move people and goods while also providing our citizens and businesses with direct access to the global marketplace."

Increased demand for commercial airline and business aviation travel in the region prompted the need for a replacement for Sloulin Field (ISN), built in 1947. The previous regional airport did not meet current FAA requirements for today’s larger and heavier aircraft, with a runway slope that exceeded minimums and taxiways too close to the main runway.

“Williston’s booming oil and energy industries have contributed to the increase in opportunities here, and as transportation is a vital part of economic development, XWA airport is the next step towards ensuring northwest North Dakota continues to grow and thrive,” said Williston Mayor Howard Klug.

Dan Pimentel is an instrument-rated private pilot and former airplane owner who has been flying since 1996. As an aviation journalist and photographer, he has covered all aspects of the general and business aviation communities for a long list of major aviation magazines, newspapers and websites. He has never met a flying machine that he didn’t like, and has written about his love of aviation for years on his Airplanista blog. For 10 years until 2019, he hosted the popular ‘Oshbash’ social media meetup events at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

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