It's a number that seemed impossible just a few short years ago. But the year-end report on traffic through the Missoula Montana Airport shows the better part of 1 million people went through the facility in 2023.

That's a huge turnaround from the early 2000s when traffic was flagging and concerns were growing over the higher rates for flying out of Missoula on a limited number of carriers.

And airport administrators are projecting no end to the trend, saying the facility is already on track to set another new record for 2024.

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The first full year of numbers with a new terminal

The 2023 report is the first to encompass an entire year of operation for the new Missoula terminal, which came online halfway through 2022. It also shows the airport's dramatic rebound in traffic since before the pandemic.

The old record was set in 2019 at 907,777 passengers. However, those numbers plummeted during the lockdowns and travel limits during COVID-19.

The new terminal came online just as air travel was making its post-pandemic comeback, with 913,198 passengers going through Missoula this past year. That includes both arrivals and departures.

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"This achievement is a testament to the support of our passengers, and the collaborative efforts of our partners to continue growing air service for our community," remarked Brian Ellestad, Airport Director at MSO. "We are not only celebrating a banner year; we are celebrating the trust our community and travelers place in us."

More growth and new terminal coming

The airport's projections are for another new passenger record this year, driven by the second phase of the terminal project, but also administrators' efforts to secure deals with more carriers.

“Airlines are taking notice of our market’s performance and are continuing to add and expand service into Missoula,” noted Tim Damrow, Deputy Director at MSO. “We hope this added capacity next summer will help continue to drive down airfares and increase travel options for our community.”

Six airlines serve the Missoula Montana Airport, including Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Sun Country, and United, with non-stop flights to Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Oakland, Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

LOOK: Where people in Montana are moving to most

Stacker compiled a list of states where people from Montana are moving to the most using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

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