MISSOULA — The inaugural Allegiant Airlines flight from Orange County, California, pulled into Missoula International Airport on Thursday night, marking the city’s latest nonstop destination.
The new flight, which operates Thursday and Sunday, represents Missoula’s newest foray into the Los Angeles basin.
“This summer, we’re going to have a lot of service to the LA basin,” said Brian Ellestad, deputy director of the Missoula airport. “Tickets will be very reasonable to California this summer, and California is always popular, especially for people coming here.”
Earlier this month, Allegiant also announced nonstop service from Missoula to Portland, bringing to six the number of routes offered by the discount carrier.
Like the Orange County flight, service to Portland will be twice weekly and launches on May 7. The airline is offering one-way fares to both destinations for as low as $59.
This spring and summer, Ellestad said, a number of other new flights will begin out of Missoula, including Alaska Airlines service to San Diego, which begins on March 18.
The carrier will also begin service to San Jose and San Francisco, along with Los Angeles and Portland.
“That will be a great option for people,” Ellestad said.
Along with Missoula’s existing flights, accommodating the growing number of passengers and planes will be a challenge until the city’s new $69 million passenger terminal opens.
The facility is slated for completion by year’s end and will be followed by a second expansion at some point in the future.
“We’re working closely with all the airlines to work with their frequencies and gate times,” Ellestad said. “Right now they’re very receptive to that, and they’re looking forward to the new terminal opening.”
The new terminal will include five gates, though future expansion plans will expand the terminal to eight gates.
“That fifth gate will be more of an eight-gate option,” Ellestad said. “We’ll have multiple parking spots like Seattle or Salt Lake, where you have multiple options off one gate. It’s great for overnights with staggered departure times.”