KALISPELL — Despite COVID-19 concerns, this holiday season airport travel is staying busy in Kalispell as Glacier Park International Airport (GPIA) reports record numbers.
Approximately 1,100 outbound passengers are expected to travel through GPIA on Thursday and another 950 passengers on Christmas Eve. Airport Director Rob Ratkowski recommends passengers arrive at least two hours before takeoff during the holiday season.
“You know that seems like overkill sometimes but depending on what’s happening that day, you know it’s good to get there early and leave yourself plenty of time so, that two hours can be a good time to get in and get through the building and get settled in and you know not be stressed the whole time,” added Ratkowski.
Ratkowski said construction is still underway this holiday season on the airport's terminal expansion project, but travelers should see little impact as the current phase is taking place outside of the main building.
“It’s on new space that is not contacting the building quite yet so, this is the last little bit that we’re going to be able to say that, but for now construction and holiday traffic is really separated so we’re fortunate that way,” said Ratkowski.
Airport officials report record-breaking passenger numbers in 2021, on pace for 415,000 travelers, shattering the previous record of 356,000 passengers in 2019.
“You know 15-30% more traffic every single month since June really and so you know that’s great for us obviously, great for the community and we’re looking forward to probably a pretty busy 2022 actually,” added Ratkowski.
Ratkowski added overflow parking is available at the airport if needed this holiday season.