Todd Campbell said that Aberdeen fares are close to other cities as long as people buy their tickets well ahead of time. He usually books a flight six weeks to two months in advance.
When he looks at Delta flights originating in Fargo, N.D., Bismarck, N.D., and Sioux Falls, the price is about the same out of Aberdeen. The only time it's much different is if a traveler waits until shortly before the flight, he said.
Campbell believes that fares have decreased since the city asked for a fare analysis two years ago.
Assuming that people make their reservations in advance, the cost to travel from Aberdeen is sometimes even less than the other places, Campbell said.
Campbell went to Boise, Idaho, three times this fall. The cost, including tax, was about $400 each time. Minneapolis was about $100 less. But Sioux Falls, Fargo and Bismarck sometimes were actually more expensive, Campbell said. His parents recently paid $440 each to fly from Aberdeen to San Diego, which is very reasonable, Campbell said.
Fellow councilman Tom Agnitsch always flies out of Aberdeen. He doesn't even consider using other cities.
“But I’ve always found the rates pretty comparable to other areas when I've traveled because I plan far enough ahead,” Agnitsch said.
The airport manager and City Council members answered this question: If it costs $75 or $100 more to fly out of Aberdeen, should people pay that support local air service rather than driving to Sioux Falls, Fargo or Minneapolis?
Mayor Mike Levsen said a difference of $75 or $100 isn't enough to create a savings for those who drive to another airport.
But, Levsen said, it's “going to have to be a personal decision based upon people’s individual finances and how much they value their time. For some people, spending six hours to save $100 is fine. For some other people, that six hours is worth a lot more than $100.”
People aren't obligated to use Aberdeen Regional Airport, Levsen said.
“I think that it would be a positive thing for people to do if they wanted to be helpful. But, again, an obligation assumes a financial outlook that might be different than somebody else’s,” Levsen said.
Airport manager Mike Wilson said he would fly locally if the difference is $75.
“I would prefer not to have to travel three hours,” he said.
Last year, while living in Brookings, he had a tough time driving to the Sioux Falls airport when the weather was bad. “I would have loved to have had an airport five miles away.”
Wilson said the difference in fare between Aberdeen and Sioux Falls is typically $20 to $50. It depends somewhat on a traveler's destination.
“The West Coast is always cheaper than flying east,” Wilson said.