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By Tu-Uyen Tran, Published March 03 2009

New Grand Forks airport director coming from Minot, N.D.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Patrick Dame has been named the new director of Grand Forks' airport.

Dame, who starts his new job in about three weeks, will be arriving at a time of change for the airport as it continues work on a new terminal and seeks additional airlines.

Airport commission Chairman Rich Becker said the search committee wanted someone with a lot of airport experience, who’s familiar with aviation in North Dakota and who has an understanding of Air Force base issues.

Dame’s resume fits the bill, according to Becker, who cited the new airport director’s previous jobs in airport planning and operations assignment at Denver International Airport and his involvement as an ambassador to Minot Air Force Base.

Besides expanding the airport and its business, Dame said one of his priorities is to reduce the leakage of passengers to Fargo’s Hector International Airport. He said he wants to educate the flying public more about the advantages of flying local.

Boardings at the airport have been on the decline for several years, dropping to a 10-year low in 2001. The numbers improved last year with the addition of Allegiant Air in September, and Northwest Airlines traffic increasing slightly. Total boardings totaled 87,556 in 2008 compared with 82,176 in 2007.

Dame will be replacing Steve E. Johnson, an 18-year employee of the airport, who announced his retirement in October. He agreed to stay on until the airport commission hired a new director.

Dame’s first airport director job was with the Brookings, S.D., airport in spring 2005, and he began his job in Minot in spring 2007.

In Minot, he controls an operational budget of about $2.1 million compared with $2.5 million in Grand Forks. Minot is served by Northwest, as is Grand Forks, which also has Allegiant Air. A major difference is the presence of UND’s flight school.

Last year, Minot had about 70,000 boardings.

Both airports are near Air Force bases.

The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.