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North Dakota airline boardings up 13.3 pct in Oct.

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November 16, 2013 12:32 PM EST | AP

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Total airline boardings at North Dakota's eight large airports in October were up 13.3 percent from the same month a year before, according to the state Aeronautics Commission.

The agency said Williston — in the heart of the booming western North Dakota oil patch — led the way with a 261 percent increase, or 6,355 more passengers than in October 2012.

Year-to-date boardings at the eight airports also are up more than 10 percent from last year. From January through October, the airports had more than 941,000 boardings, up nearly 91,000 from a year earlier.

North Dakota Aeronautics Commission Director Larry Taborsky said Fargo had an additional 3,228 passengers in October, setting a record for the month. Grand Forks topped their previous October record by 1,268 passengers, he said.

Dickinson, Bismarck and Minot also have been seeing skyrocketing boardings, Taborsky said.

Officials cite the state's good economy and additional jet service for the dramatic increase in boardings in recent years.

"Our state has the attention of the nation's airlines, and they are adding flights because it is a good business decision," Taborsky said in a statement. "We're planning for this level of activity for at least 30 years."

Several airports in North Dakota have received federal grant money this year for improvement projects. The state Legislature earlier this year also approved $60 million for airports over the two-year budget period to help deal with growth. About $28 million has been doled out so far.