ROCHESTER, Minn. - Rochester International Airport is now the second busiest airport in the state of Minnesota, taking the spot from Duluth International Airport this year.
"It's an exciting experience to be here, to be part of Rochester, to be part of Destination Medical Center, to be part of the growing that's going on in our community," John Reed, Executive Director of RST, said.
The airport is seeing a 37% increase in passengers so far this calendar year. Reed expects the airport to see about 180,000 passengers by the end of the year. In 2017, RST saw a 27% increase in passengers traveling through.
Reed said the increase in traffic is due to a number of reasons like the airport's FlyLocal campaign, added airlines, and the downsizing of the Duluth airport.
The growth does bring changes, most which can already be seen, like the new U.S. Customs area. The airport also consolidated ticket lines and improved the baggage claim area. It's currently looking for more TSA employees to meet the growing need.
Reed said it's constantly looking for changes to make to meet passenger needs as more people come to Rochester. Coming this fall, improvements to the parking lot at RST. Reed said the parking lot is getting a new gate arms and payment system.
"We view ourselves as the front door to the community and it's exciting to be a part of that," he said.
It's also constantly looking for new destinations to add to the local airport. Recent plans to add Phoenix, AZ and St. Augustine, FL didn't work out due to low ticket sales.
While it's the second busiest in the state, RST has a long way to go if it ever wants to be number one. The current spot holder, Minneapolis-St. Paul airport saw 38 million travelers during 2017.