Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) The travel season at Missoula Montana Airport will take off next week, and it’s facing smooth air as service grows to new record levels.

The airport, which is constructing the second and third phase of its new passenger terminal, logged record passenger numbers last year. This year, it expects to surge past those figures to secure another record season.

“We reached out to the Transportation Security Administration to review our projected passenger counts,” said airport director Brian Ellestad. “We now believe we will need additional checkpoint equipment, and it sounds like we’re making some progress.”

Ellestad described March’s passenger count as the last “flat” month of 2024, even though it saw a 1% increase in passengers. April has offered an 11% increase in available seats, largely due to Alaska Airlines launching mainline service from Missoula to Seattle.

But May kicks off the official travel season to and from Missoula, with a 41% increase in seats. Next week, Frontier Airlines will recommence service to Denver, followed by Phoenix the following week.

“That flight’s timing will be adjusted to an afternoon time slot,” Ellestad said. “It now gives us additional connection opportunities with great round-trip connection options to Orlando.”

Among the other service announcements, Ellestad said United Airlines will extend its service to Chicago an additional three weeks in September. Already, American Airlines has Chicago loaded for most of October.

Airport officials continue to attend air service conferences in hopes of boosting local service and landing new route opportunities.

“There’s been lots of great feedback,” said Ellestad. “Probably the best was that Sun Country is currently pleased with our advance passenger bookings.”

e second and third phase at Missoula Montana Airport.
e second and third phase at Missoula Montana Airport.
enter the market in June

“Airfares are trending down,” he said. “Competition feeds competition and lowers airfares. It should be a pretty good summer.”

While the airport buckles in for a busy travel summer, it’s also working to complete the second phase of the new passenger terminal. The work represents a majority of the east concourse and is advancing quickly. Once finished, it will offer several more jet gates, concessions, baggage claim and car-rental services.

The airport also plans to roll into the third phase soon, which includes an extension of the east concourse and another bridge.

“It’s an extension of the hold room down about another 120 feet to furnish that additional gate,” said deputy airport director Tim Damrow. “There’s a lot of activity in a lot of different areas.”


Gallery Credit: KC

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