Grand Forks International Airport

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For the airport near Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada, see Grand Forks Airport.
"KGFK" redirects here. For the radio station in Grand Forks, ND with the call sign KGFK, see KGFK (AM).
Grand Forks International Airport
GFK airport logo
Aerial view of airport shortly after takeoff from runway 35L


GFK is located in North Dakota
Airport location in North Dakota
Airport type Public
Operator Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority
Location Grand Forks, North Dakota
Elevation AMSL 845 ft / 258 m
Coordinates 47°56′57″N 097°10′34″W / 47.94917°N 97.17611°W / 47.94917; -97.17611
Direction Length Surface
ft m
9L/27R 4,206 1,282 Concrete
17L/35R 3,901 1,189 Concrete
17R/35L 7,351 2,240 Asphalt
9R/27L 3,300 1,006 Concrete
Statistics (12 months ending 6-30-2013)
Aircraft operations 355,061
Sources: FAA[1] and airport web site[2]

Grand Forks International Airport (IATA: GFKICAO: KGFKFAA LID: GFK) is a public airport five miles (8 km) northwest of Grand Forks, in Grand Forks County, North Dakota. GFK has no scheduled passenger flights out of the country but has an "international" title (like many other airports) because it has customs service for arrivals from Canada and other countries.

The airport, sometimes called Mark Andrews International Airport after Mark Andrews, a former U.S. House Representative and U.S. Senator from North Dakota, is owned by the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority[1] and located on U.S. Highway 2, around four miles (6 km) west of Interstate 29, within city limits in a detached section of the city that is surrounded by Rye Township.

In 2009 the airport's FAA control tower was the 23rd busiest in the nation, with 346,165 tower operations.[3] About 90% of all operations at GFK are flights operated by the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences which is based on the field.


FAA diagram of GFK


KGFK is a non-hub, primary commercial service airport. The Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority is a public, non-profit organization established as a joint partnership between Grand Forks County and the City of Grand Forks. This is the governance of the Airport. The Airport Authority consists of a seven-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the Grand Forks Mayor, Michael R. Brown, and the Grand Forks County Commission. Karl Bollingberg is the Chairman of the Board followed by Tim Mutchler, Vice Chairman. Other members of the board include, Clark Cronquist, Brad Beyer, Gary Malm, Steve Kuhlman, and Dana Sande. The staff at KGFK consist of Patrick Dame, the Executive Director, Mary Jo Crystal, Director of Finance/Administration, Rick Audette, Operations and Maintenance Manager and Coleen Peterson, Executive Assistant (Grand Forks International Airport, 2014).


The now closed original passenger terminal at GFK was built in 1964. Outside terminal security were the Delta and Allegiant Airlines ticketing counters, a restaurant, a gift shop and a waiting area. After passing through security screening there is a small waiting area that served the terminal's two passenger gates.

In the mid-2000s, discussion began of upgrading or totally replacing the terminal as it has structural and safety problems and leaves little to no room for expansion. Findings from a study commissioned by the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority were released in early 2005. The study, which was done by Ulteig Engineers, gave the Airport Authority options for the future of the passenger terminal.

One option was to keep the terminal as is. The consulting group did not recommend this as the terminal has too many structural and safety problems. The list of problems include: mold growth, roof leakage, differential settlement, blocking runway line of sight, passenger boarding, potential equipment damage from basement flooding, outdated electrical and mechanical systems, no sprinkler system, code deficiencies, insufficient parking setback, and interior traffic circulation issues. The terminal could be rehabilitated for $18.3 million, however, that would leave many issues unresolved and leave no room for expansion.

The consulting group recommended that a brand new passenger terminal would the best solution to the current terminal's problems. Five locations for a new terminal were evaluated favoring a site between the cargo apron and general aviation apron. Ground was broken on the new terminal in July 2009, with completion expected in 2011. The building will be named the Byron L Dorgan Terminal in honor of retiring North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan. It was opened and dedicated on August 30, 2011.

The new passenger terminal, designed by JLG Architects, is a two story building, with Delta and Allegiant ticketing counters, baggage claim carousel, and several rental car agencies. The first floor has a state of the art inline checked baggage screening system. The Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority has several offices on the second floor, along with the TSA security checkpoint with cutting edge passenger screening technology. Beyond security is a waiting area for both of the airports gates. Red River Valley Grill also serves both the public and secured side of the airport for concessions and beverages. There is also a small gift shop in the grill.

UND Aerospace[edit]

KGFK is unique because its largest tenant is not an airline, but the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard Aerospace Program. The University utilizes 11 heated hangars to house approximately 120 aircraft. A flight operations building that is the headquarters for dispatching aircraft, pre-briefing students for flights, and an on-site cafeteria on the top level of the five-story building. KGFK also houses UND’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) training facility. The facility is used for ground briefings, flight simulators, and systems training for students who are pursuing a major focusing on unmanned aircraft. The most recent addition at KGFK was a new hangar for UND’s helicopter flight training operations completed December 2011.[4]

Most operations (takeoff/landing) at GFK is from the University of North Dakota. The UND Aerospace Foundation occupies the northeastern (Bravo), and eastern (Charlie) ramps on the airport. UND operates a fleet over 120 aircraft including Cessna 172's, Cessna 150's, Piper Seminoles, Piper Arrows, two Beechcraft King Air 90's and a pair of American Champion Decathlons for flight training. UND also owns a Cessna Citation, however, used for atmospheric research and not used for flight training. Several buildings complement such a fleet of aircraft, including a dispatch center, a full-time maintenance center, and dedicated line support personal and much more.


Grand Forks International Airport covers 1,618 acres (655 ha) and has four runways:[1]

  • Runway 9L/27R: 4,206 ft × 100 ft (1,282 m × 30 m) Concrete
  • Runway 17L/35R: 3,901 ft × 75 ft (1,189 m × 23 m) Concrete
  • Runway 17R/35L: 7,351 ft × 150 ft (2,241 m × 46 m) Asphalt
  • Runway 9R/27L: 3,300 ft × 60 ft (1,006 m × 18 m) Concrete

Due to the increased amount of general aviation traffic, primarily from the UND Aerospace flight training school, a fourth runway has been completed on the southeast side of the airport. It is a parallel east/west runway named 9R/27L. The previous runway 8/26 was renamed in October 2008 to 9L/27R in preparation for the new runway.


In 2008 the airport had 241,459 aircraft operations, average 662 per day: 93% air taxi, 5% general aviation, 1% scheduled commercial and 1% military.[3]

GFK Flight Support[edit]

GFK Flight Support, the fixed base operator at the airport, completed construction of a new $4.5 million facility in Fall 2008. This 45,000 sq ft (4,200 m2) facility increased GFK Flight Support's heated hangar and aircraft support space to 130,000 sq ft (12,000 m2) making it the largest aircraft service center in North Dakota. The previous facilities are now used by wing of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, housing a number of government aircraft and helicopters.[5] Valley Med Fight, an air ambulance company, also occupies near by hangars, which are managed by GFK Flight Support.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Allegiant Air Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix/Mesa
Delta Connection Minneapolis/St. Paul
Busiest domestic routes out of GFK
(September 2014 - August 2015) [6]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Minneapolis/St Paul, MN 87,000 Delta
2 Las Vegas, NV 24,000 Allegiant
3 Phoenix, AZ 19,000 Allegiant
4 Orlando, FL 14,000 Allegiant

On November 9, 2010 GFK had 100,570 boardings, one more than the record achieved in 12 months in 1994. The Airport Director, Patrick Dame, confidently predicted that GFK would reach 117,000 boardings by the end of 2010. As of April 2014, passenger boardings at GFK have reached 147,000, a 7% increase year-over-year (Apr 2012-Apr 2013).[7]

During the same period, Delta leads passenger traffic with 181,550 passengers (arriving and departing) and maintains a 59.64% market share. Allegiant trails at 117,000 total passengers and a 39.98% market share. Scheduled departures have risen to 5,572, compared to 4,355 in 2010.[7]

On October 3, 2012, United Airlines (operated by United Express) started flying between Denver, CO and Grand Forks. However, on September 10, 2013, United announced they would terminate service on December 3, 2013, citing low load factors as their reason for termination.[8]


Airlines Destinations
Alpine Air Express Bismarck
Encore Air Cargo Sioux Falls
FedEx Express Des Moines, Memphis
FedEx Feeder operated by Corporate Air Bemidji, Bismarck, Dickinson, Fargo, Minot, Thief River Falls, Williston
FedEx Feeder operated by Mountain Air Cargo Minot

FedEx is the second largest employer at KGFK. The FedEx ramp at KGFK serves the entire state of North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota, and small portions of South Dakota and Montana. FedEx has over 100 employees—customer service representatives, ramp agents, couriers, semi-drivers and jet aircraft and vehicle maintenance workers. Ramp agents work evening or early morning shifts, loading and unloading the aircraft, feeder planes and trucks. FedEx contracts with Corporate Air to provide pilots and maintenance for eleven feeder aircraft. Corporate Air is KGFK’s tenth largest employer[9]


  1. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for GFK (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2014-01-19
  2. ^ Grand Forks International Airport, official web site
  3. ^ a b FAA ATADS Report [date missing]
  4. ^ (University of North Dakota School of Aerospace Sciences, 2012)
  5. ^ "GFK Flight Support To Build State-Of-The-Art Corporate Jet Center". press release. Grand Forks International Airport. 2007-08-27. 
  6. ^ Forks, ND: Grand Forks International&carrier=FACTS
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^ (Grand Forks International Airport, 2012)

External links[edit]