Rapid City Regional Airport is ready for the influx of visitors during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but is expecting a lower than normal passenger count for a banner year of the rally.
Airport Executive Director Patrick Dame said when a five-year milestone anniversary hits for the rally, passenger traffic normally increases. But with travelers contending with a pandemic during the 80th anniversary of the Sturgis Rally, Dame said indicators seem to suggest passenger traffic will be down this year.
Dame said this week many rally-goers ship their motorcycles ahead of time via truck and then fly in to the airport to pick them up. The airport makes arrangements every year for semi-trucks and trailers packed with motorcycles to use a satellite parking lot.
“The owners of the motorcycles get off the airplanes and then head to the parking lot to get their bikes,” Dame said. “This year we have 12 trucks and trailers who have made reservations to use the parking lot. That’s down from the 75th year of the rally, but up over a standard year.”
In 2015, Dame said 16 semi-trucks and trailers parked at the airport for the 75th anniversary. On a normal year that is not a significant anniversary, the airport usually has eight semi-trucks and trailers with motorcycles.
“So, with the 80th year being one of those significant years, we are down over other significant years, but up when we compare it to what we consider a normal year,” Dame said.
With the risk of the coronavirus, Dame said additional cleaning and health safety protocols have been put in place at the airport.
“While this is not directly related to the rally, we continue our cleaning regiments in the terminal for all passengers,” Dame said. “We did put on a backpack sprayer for doing electrostatic sanitizing. We’ve had that onboard for about a month now to help us out with sanitization. We’ll continue to do additional sanitization from the time this started and going forward. All that was put in place before the rally.”
The airport has also made face masks available to those who wish to wear them while in the terminal. All airlines flying in and out of Rapid City require face masks while on the aircraft, but there is no mandate for wearing face masks while in the terminal itself.
“We have put up additional signage recommending that passengers wear masks and this past Friday we changed to a CDC-style sign,” Dame said. “We also have installed tables at the front entryway to distribute masks to people and are strongly encouraging them to wear masks in the terminal at all times.”
Dame said the airport is working with vendors and contractors to strongly encourage them to wear face masks at all times as well.
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