Bakken boom helps spur summer Houston-Rapid City flights

United Airlines will again run daily flights from Houston to Rapid City, S.D., spurred in part by demand by energy-related business in North Dakota’s Bakken play.

Direct flights between George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Rapid City Regional Airport are set to start June 6 and continue through Aug. 26. The daily flights will be aboard 50-passenger regional jets operated by United Express affiliates.

In its announcement Thursday, United noted that the flights will offer nonstop access to vacation spots in the Black Hills of South Dakota as well as “the booming oilfields of neighboring North Dakota.”

The announcement details how development wells in western North Dakota have pushed the state past Alaska as the No. 2 U.S. oil producer.

“East Texas is a great market for Black Hills tourism, and Rapid City has seen an overall increase in business travel in recent years. We think the Bakken boom has a lot to do with that,” Cameron Humphres, executive director of Rapid City Regional Airport, said in a statement.

If oil isn’t your thing, the region also offers: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Devils Tower National Monument and the Badlands National Park, to name a few attractions.

And each August hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts gather in Sturgis, S.D. According to United, many of those bikers ship their motorcycles to the Black Hills and fly in via commercial airline.

This will be the second summer of direct flights between Houston and Rapid City. Traffic during the summer of 2012 was strong enough to warrant the service again in 2013.