KALISPELL — Construction at Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell is officially underway after board members approved the expansion project last week.
“The meeting last Tuesday was a culmination of four years of planning and design effort, so it was really a big milestone in the life of the airport,” Glacier Park International Airport Director Rob Ratkowski tells MTN News.
As the number of visitors to Flathead Valley continues to grow each year, Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell has decided to grow alongside them.
Ratkowski said phase one of the expansion project is underway, with expansion expected to nearly triple the current square footage of the airport to almost 200,000 square feet.
“We started seeing heavy growth curves around 2016, 2017 and that’s when we started planning for the building,” said Ratkowski.
Ratkowski said the project includes an increase in terminal gates as well as jet bridges, a full-service bar and restaurant past the security checkpoint and more.
He said expansion is needed to keep up with the growing demand for air travel.
“Almost 100,000 more airline seats in the market this year than we did in 2019; 2019 was our record year ever, so we’re planning for a very busy summer,” Ratkowski tells MTN News.
Ratkowski expects the passenger experience to remain largely unchanged through the busy summer season as construction continues.
“We need to do all this work and the building still has to operate just like it always has. Some people have equated it to rebuilding an engine while it’s still running, so it’s definitely a balancing act with the phasing," said Ratkowski.
Expansion is expected to be finished by April of 2024.