NewsMissoula County


Passenger counts rebounding at Missoula airport; terminal project under budget

Missoula International Airport
Posted at 12:50 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 14:50:09-04

MISSOULA — The steady distribution of a vaccine and growing public confidence continue to push passenger counts at Missoula International Airport closer to pre-pandemic highs.

It also has helped the airport’s revenue stream as it prepares its next fiscal-year budget and wraps up work on the new $67 million south concourse.

“We’re trending close to or above what the pre-pandemic guesses were back in march,” said acting airport director Brian Ellestad. “We’re feeling a lot better on where that next budget sits.”

The number of passengers flying from Missoula held steady at around 50% of pre-pandemic levels for the past few months. In March, however, the numbers grew to 67% of normal.

As passenger counts rebound, Ellestad said air carriers are finishing their summer schedules, which show a nearly 20% increase in the number of seats available in the Missoula market over 2019.

“We’ll see if we fill those additional seats or not, but we’re about 20% more seats in our market than in 2019,” Ellestad said. “This year, more than ever, it has become clear that our terminal is holding us back from additional service, as space is very limited.”

Airport officials have set an opening date for the new terminal for early next year. This week, the airport board issued its final bid for the project, which remains slightly under budget at $67.7 million.

“This should round out this phase of the terminal expansion,” said Tim Damrow, the airport’s projects manager. “We’re expecting this to be the final piece of the project.”

Pricing for the east concourse is expected in May. The results will determine that project’s schedule.