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Construction on next phase of Missoula airport construction just weeks away

Posted at 10:21 AM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 12:21:27-04

MISSOULA - While passengers are still marveling over the new terminal at Missoula Montana Airport, administrators are already moving to start the third, and final phase of the airport's upgrades.

When the new terminal recently opened, it marked a key milestone in years of planning, and then construction, carrying through on the goal of not just upgrading, but also expanding Missoula's air travel options.

In addition to being designed for state-of-the-art passenger flows and security, the new terminal also brings the features travelers expect nowadays, such as more efficient baggage handling, and improved facilities for those "between flight" times.

There's also a lot going on behind the scenes, including an extensive IT network, and components that allow the jets to directly connect to the terminal, saving money and air quality. Yet work is already starting for making use of the old terminal.

"Lots more to do with phase three construction getting underway later on this summer," said Missoula Montana Airport Director Brian Ellestad. "So almost immediately we'll start decommissioning the next, the old terminal, I guess. Maybe in August you'll actually see progress, so we'll start deconstructing and then sometime in '24 and '25 will finish that project up so. Permanent baggage claim, car rentals, and then four more airline gates."

Similar to the construction of the new terminal — which involved the demolition of the old "western wing" — the third phase will see the existing building removed. Ellestad says the airport will take the same financial approach.

"Yeah, and I think the biggest thing we're most proud of is, you know, bringing this project on time and under budget and honoring our airline commitment of not raising rates and charges," Ellestad said. "So you know that goes a long way so we don't see any increase of ticket prices just because of this project. We want to have a reason for airlines that come here not to leave and raise prices."

Unlike the second phase of the project, Phase Three will be easier for the airport to manage, basically being out of the way of the passenger flow. And the successful completion of Phase Two should help free up the federal checkbook to help pay for the remaining work.

"So far we have Phase Two pretty much squared up. We are hoping for another federal grant that we hope will be announced in the next two weeks, and then we'll also hopefully do Phase Three and continual thing, but we're sitting pretty good if we could get that grant," Ellestad concluded.

MTN News will air a special report, Inside the Missoula Montana Airport during the Friday 5:30 News.