MISSOULA — The airport formerly known as Missoula International became the Missoula Montana Airport this week after the authority that oversees the facility approved the name change and new branding effort.
The board has considered the update for years and aimed to have it coincide with the unveiling of the airport’s new $100 million passenger terminal, the first phase of which is set to open early next year.
“The general thought, with the new building coming along, is that it was a good time to reevaluate not only the logo but the name of the airport as we look to a new facility,” said Tim Damrow, director of projects for the airport. “It seemed like a natural point to do that.”
The airport and its partners evaluated hundreds of different logo designs and name options. The selected logo reflects a simpler and cleaner design and designates Missoula Montana Airport.
Those behind the effort opted to drop the “international” designation from the name to more accurately reflect current airport operations.
“The international designation is something a lot of airports did in the 70s and 80s as more of a status symbol,” Damrow said. “It seems to be at the point now where it has watered down the meaning of it. The name change is more reflective of what the airport is and who we serve.”
The number of passengers flying from Missoula has increased exponentially over the past few years, hitting record numbers before the pandemic. Back in 2000, the airport recorded around 450,000 passengers though by 2019, it was pushing 900,000.
The number of destinations also has grown, and while local passengers can access an international market with one connection, the airport doesn’t currently offer flights directly to or from an international market.
Damrow said the name change reflects the airport’s current operations and will help those exploring Missoula in their online searches. While Kalispell-Glacier and Bozeman-Yellowstone both reflect the local attractions in their backyard, Missoula looks to reflect the state as a whole.
“It helps with search engine optimization and placement,” Damrow said. “We don’t have a national park in our back yard to put in our name, but we do serve as a central launching point for any of your Montana adventures. It seemed to be a fitting name for the airport.”