Grand Forks Airport Ranked 12th for Busiest Airport in the U.S.


Dominique Menard, New Editor

The 2021 list of the United States busiest airports has been released for the 2021 year. Grand Forks International Airport (GFK) has ranked as 12th busiest airport in the nation for 2021 in terms of airport operation. This is the highest ranking that GFK has ever received. In 2020, they ranked 20th and in 2019, they ranked 33rd respectively. The total number of flights and operations that occurred at GFK within 2021 was 349,405.

There has been an increase in the number of flights and operations at GFK that UND aviation students have completed. The executive director of GFK says that these students have helped increase the airport rankings on this list. UND houses 100+ different aircrafts and helicopters that are stationed at GFK, but it requires a team effort for everything to run smoothly.

There have been several factors that have helped improve the number of flights that the University has gotten to run. The two main factors are more favorable weather (and therefore flying) conditions as well as more flight instructors for the university. With little snow within the winter months, and drought like conditions within the summer, little weather delays/cancelations occurred making 2021 a great year of flying at GFK. Flight instructors were in high demand with the increased number of UND students flying at GFK. With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, airline hirings halted, and more students took jobs as instructors. This was a major benefit with the influx of flights seen in 2021.

Besides being ranked 11th for busiest airport within the U.S., GFK has had one other large accomplishment. On eleven separate occasions, GFK was ranked first for flights/operations completed in a day. In March alone, there were five times that this occurred, with the highest day being 2,054 flights. However, the day with the highest number of operations occurred in April, and it topped over 2,200 flights!

Some of the other airports on the list included Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (374,510), Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (651,895), Chicago O’Hare International Airport (684,201), and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (707,661). Although these airports have significantly higher flight/operation counts, they also have significantly larger populations and airport sizes. GFK being ranked as high as it is for its size can be attributed to multiple factors; however, a major one being University of North Dakota aviation students.

Dominique Menard is a Dakota Student News Editor. She can be reached at [email protected]