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History of the Bemidji Regional Airport

Serving the Bemidji area for over 75 years

Bemidji Civic and Commerce Association presented the property to the City of Bemidji in 1932 and the airport began operations with an all-way field. By 1941, the airport included over 150 cleared acres and a hangar. The land comprising the airport at that time is located in what is now the southeast corner of the airport. By 1944, the airport had grown significantly to the northwest, increasing the total acreage to nearly 1,600 acres. The US Government designated the field as a “secondary defense airport” and embarked on a series of improvements. The all-way field was replaced with two paved and lighted 5,700 foot runways, a 4,000 foot turf runway and a 2,500 turf runway.

Commercial air service began in 1952 with the arrival of flights operated by North Central Airlines. Commercial service continues to the present day. The turf runways were abandoned by the late 1970s and in December of 1981, the official airport name was changed to the “Bemidji/Beltrami County Airport." In 2005, the name was changed to the “Bemidji Regional Airport” to better reflect its role in serving the entire region.

In 2006 and continuing until the Fall of 2008 the airport underwent a complete removal and replacement of all the runways and taxiways, upgrading of the weather reporting system, installation of additional Instrument Landing system for Runway 25 along with the planning and acquisition of a VOR for the airport by the state to replace a decommissioned federal system. Also completed in 2009 was a complete replacement of all airfield electrical systems and installation of new back-up generation systems.  The airport now has runways of  7,004 feet and 5,700 feet in length with precision instrument approaches to three of the four.  Total acreage of the airport is now over 1,880 acres.

Effective January 1, 2009 the airport transitioned from being jointly owned and operated by the city of Bemidji and Beltrami County to ownership and operation by an Airport Authority with its own tax levy and funding responsibilities. This was done to provide additional visibility of the airport financial structure and cost to the communities it supports.

In 2009, the airport completed a ramp rehabilitation project as a part of the federal recovery program and a complete renovation and expansion of the terminal, including substantial energy improvement efforts, the addition of a boarding bridge and a doubling of capacity allowing handling of multiple flights up to and including 737-800/900s and AirBus 319/320s comfortably and efficiently. Also included was a complete remodel and expansion of the aircraft rescue and firefighting facility (ARFF) as well as the public parking lot, all funded under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

In 2012, a major terminal rehabilitation project was completed.  The was terminal expanded from 13,064 square feet to 28,738 square feet and restrooms were added  inside the sterile passenger waiting area.    The security checkpoint was relocated and expanded and space for bag belt system/screening was built.  Other items added were new gate hold seating; a passenger boarding bridge; ticket counters; a geothermal heating/ventilation/air conditioning system; new gas service; new communication cables; video monitors for FIDs, weather and TV; locks and keys were also upgraded.  A 900-square foot addition was added to the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) building.  

Since 2013 three new business/corporate hangars have been completed.  In 2014, the parking lot expansion was completed.  There are now 486 spaces for short-term, long-term, employee and rental car parking.  A new taxi lane was constructed to allow access to private and corporate hangar development sites was constructed in 2015.   A snow removal equipment storage building for the Airport Authority began in 2016.  T-Hangars and new taxiways are coming in 2017.

The Bemidji Regional Airport is the region’s travel hub for access to the beautiful Northern Minnesota business and recreation center of Bemidji. Flying to Bemidji is a convenient and quick way to access the region - an area rich in natural beauty and ready for great business opportunities.

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