Watertown Regional Airport

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Watertown Regional Airport
(former Watertown Army Airfield)
Watertown Regional Airport Logo.png
Airport type Public
Owner City of Watertown
Serves Watertown, South Dakota, U.S.
Elevation AMSL 1,749 ft / 533 m
Coordinates 44°54′50″N 097°09′17″W / 44.91389°N 97.15472°W / 44.91389; -97.15472Coordinates: 44°54′50″N 097°09′17″W / 44.91389°N 97.15472°W / 44.91389; -97.15472
Website watertownsdairport.com
ATY is located in South Dakota
Location of airport in South Dakota/United States
ATY is located in the US
ATY (the US)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12/30 6,898 2,102 Concrete
17/35 6,893 2,100 Concrete
Statistics (2013)
Aircraft operations 15,200
Based aircraft 32

Watertown Regional Airport (IATA: ATY[2], ICAO: KATY, FAA LID: ATY), formerly Watertown Municipal Airport, is a city owned public use airport located 2 nautical miles (4 km) northwest of Watertown, a city in Codington County, South Dakota, United States.[1]

The National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2015-2019 categorized it as a non-primary commercial service facility. As per the Federal Aviation Administration, it had 4,348 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2013, a decrease of 30.5% from 6,254 enplanements in 2012.


During World War II, the airfield was used by the United States Army Air Forces. It was used as a Second Air Force cold weather bomber training base as an auxiliary to Sioux Falls Army Air Field, and by Air Proving Ground Command.

B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator units underwent advanced training before going overseas. One unit that trained here was the 702d Bombardment Squadron of the 445th Bombardment Group.[3]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

Watertown Regional Airport covers 919 acres (372 ha) at an elevation of 1,749 feet (533 m) above mean sea level. It has two runways: 12/30 is 6,898 by 100 feet (2,102 x 30 m) concrete and 17/35 is 6,893 by 100 feet (2,100 x 30 m) concrete.[1]

In 2013 the airport had 15,200 aircraft operations, an average 42 per day: 72% general aviation, 18% air carrier, and 10% air taxi. At that time 32 aircraft were based at this airport: 69% single-engine, 19% multi-engine, 6% jet, and 6% glider.[1]

From 2012 to 2018, runways 17/35 and 12/30 were completely overhauled using concrete. This improvement eliminated the worn out asphalt surface that both runways consisted of previously.

The airport passenger terminal was renovated and updated in 2009, providing a refreshed and more efficient atmosphere for passengers. The upgrades included an entire overhaul of the interior design, as well as an expanded TSA inspection area. Currently, there is no jet bridge at the airport, as the turboprop planes that served the airport over the years did not work with that equipment. Passengers boarded the aircraft by walking outside on the apron to the aircraft steps. However, with the introduction of jet service to the airport in 2016 and the discussion of a possible new terminal building in the coming years, it is very likely that the airport could acquire a jet bridge in the near future. Watertown is currently the only commercial airport in the state of South Dakota without a jet bridge.

The airport also offers free parking.

Notable visitors[edit]

President Barack Obama has landed at the airport twice, first in 2008 during his presidential campaign, and again on May 8, 2015, to address the graduating class of 2015 from Lake Area Technical Institute. Both times, President Obama has arrived on a Boeing 757 aircraft, during his campaign, using a chartered North American Airlines 757, and as president, using a smaller version of Air Force One (being the Boeing C-32).

Airline and destinations[edit]

Air service to Watertown is currently provided by Great Lakes Jet Express, operated by Aerodynamics, Inc. using 50-seat Embraer 145 jet aircraft. There are two daily flights to Denver, with a stop in Pierre. Service began on August 15, 2016.

Great Lakes Jet Express Denver, Pierre, SD

Former service[edit]

Mesaba Airlines, operating as Northwest Airlink, and later, Delta Connection, served the Watertown community for many years, with daily flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul using Saab 340 aircraft. When Delta discontinued the use of the Saab 340 in December 2011, and subsequently announced the cessation of air service to Watertown, flights from Minneapolis were temporarily provided using Delta's Canadair Regional Jet 200, until Great Lakes Airlines took over 4 months later.

Great Lakes Airlines offered daily non-stop flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul using 19-seat (later 9-seat) Beechcraft 1900D aircraft, until city officials voted to end the service, citing unreliability of the airline.[4] Great Lakes officially ceased air service to the airport on September 30, 2015.

Sun Country Airlines previously flew several seasonal charter flights throughout the year to Laughlin/Bullhead City International Airport in Arizona, in coordination with several travel agencies located in Watertown, using their Boeing 737-800 aircraft. These special trips were discontinued in 2015.


Carrier shares: (Sep 2016 - Aug 2017)[5]
Carrier   Passengers (arriving and departing)
Top domestic destinations from ATY:
(Sep 2016 - Aug 2017)
Rank Airport Passengers Airline
1 Pierre, SD 9,000 Aerodynamics
Passenger boardings (enplanements) by year, as per the FAA
Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Enplanements 9,161 6,212 5,158 4,975 5,824 7,814 8,984 6,254 4,348
Change +4.79% -32.19% -16.97% -3.55% +17.07% +34.17% +14.97% -30.39% -30.48%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for ATY (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective March 5, 2015.
  2. ^ "IATA Airport Code Search (ATY: Watertown)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  3. ^ Michael Simpson, History of the 445th Bomb Group, Revised Edition
  4. ^ "Timetable" (PDF). Great Lakes Airlines. March 23, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Watertown, SD: Watertown Regional (ATY)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. December 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2017. 

Other sources[edit]

  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.
  • Essential Air Service documents (Docket OST-2001-10644) from the U.S. Department of Transportation:
    • Order 2003-7-4 (July 8, 2003): selects Mesaba Aviation, Inc. d/b/a Northwest Airlink, an affiliate of Northwest Airlines, to provide subsidized essential air service (EAS) for a two-year period at Watertown, South Dakota, at an annual rate of $1,871,825.
    • Order 2005-9-9 (September 14, 2005): re-selecting Mesaba Aviation, Inc. d/b/a Northwest Airlink, to provide subsidized essential air service (EAS) for the two-year period beginning August 1, 2005, at Watertown, South Dakota, at an annual rate of $1,211,589.
    • Order 2007-8-19 (August 20, 2007): re-selecting Mesaba Aviation, Inc., d/b/a Northwest Airlink, to continue to provide subsidized essential air service (EAS) at Watertown, South Dakota, for the two-year period beginning August 1, 2007. Service will consist of 14 nonstop round trips per week at an annual subsidy rate of $1,189,606, with flights originating and terminating at Pierre and operated with 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft as Northwest Airlink.
    • Order 2009-7-15 (July 16, 2009): re-selecting Mesaba Aviation, Inc. d/b/a Delta Connection, to continue providing subsidized essential air service (EAS) at Watertown, SD, for the two-year period beginning August 1, 2009, at the annual subsidy rate of $1,338,321.
    • Order 2011-6-6 (June 7, 2011): re-selecting Mesaba Aviation, Inc., operating as Delta Connection, to provide essential air service (EAS) at Watertown, South Dakota. Mesaba will provide two daily nonstop round trips (14 a week) to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (Minneapolis) using 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft for a short-term contract period beginning August 1, 2011, through October 31, 2011, for an annual subsidy of $1,769,019, pro-rated at $450,736 for the contract period.
    • Order 2011-9-5 (September 13, 2011): prohibiting suspension of service and requesting proposals.
    • Order 2011-11-30 (November 23, 2011): selecting Great Lakes Aviation, Ltd., to provide essential air service (EAS) at six communities at the following annual subsidy rates: Brainerd, Minnesota, $959,865; Fort Dodge, $1,798,693; Iron Mountain, $1,707,841; Mason City, $1,174,468; Thief River Falls, Minnesota, $1,881,815; and Watertown, $1,710,324, for the two-year period beginning when Great Lakes inaugurates full EAS at all six communities
    • Order 2014-4-17 (April 18, 2014): reselecting Great Lakes to provide EAS at Watertown, South Dakota using 19 (reconfigured to 9) passenger Beech 1900D aircraft with non-stop service to Minneapolis for 2 round trips each weekday and weekend and one-stop service to Denver for one daily round trip, for a total of 19 per week, for the two-year term from June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2016, for an annual subsidy of $2,847,284.

External links[edit]