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Billings airport vying for new flights after adding Allegiant trip to LA

Posted at 10:15 PM, Nov 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-18 00:15:01-05

Billings airport and city leaders met with Southwest Airlines this week, after another big announcement that Allegiant will start with direct flights between Billings and Los Angeles in the Spring of 2024.

"And we're grateful for everyone being here today after the exciting announcement with new service from Allegiant to L.A.," said Marcell Bruski, Big Sky Economic Development senior director of engagement.

Those flights are expected to help business and tourism.

The Airport Service Commission, made up of the airport director, Big Sky Economic Development and the Billings Chamber, is continually working to bring in new flights to Billings.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for Billings Logan International Airport.

Last month, it was the announcement of new summer flights on Sun Country Airlines to Minneapolis.

This week, Allegiant unveiled Thursday and Sunday flights between Los Angeles and Billings from May to August.

"We're glad to have them here to serve Los Angeles," said Jeff Roach, city of Billings director of aviation & transit.

Allegiant flew between Los Angeles and Billings from November 2009 to August 2012.

Other flight options out of Billings have also evaporated in the past several years, most notably Frontier Airlines, which connected Billings to Denver. That airline left in 2021.

"Typically, it has nothing to do with the airport," Roach said. "It's a decision that that they make for the best interest of their resources and their business."

But the airport and the city have been working to change the trend.

"We just got back from Dallas late last night meeting with Southwest Airlines," said Ashley Kavanagh, Big Sky Econcomic Development senior director of recruitment.

While talks are still happening, the Billings Airport Service Committee hopes to use money from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant to potentially add flights to Los Angeles, along with San Francisco and Denver.

"This is a really important component of the Billings economy," said Aly Eggart, Billings Chamber Visit Billings leisure marketing director. "When you see full hotels, you see full restaurants, you see full shops. Those employees live work, play, spend here in Billings, as well."

Bozeman continues to lead the way in Montana when it comes to airline passengers, with Billings slipping from second to fourth in 2022.

But committee members say the markets are much different.

"In our meetings with airlines, they really do separate Bozeman from Billings because we're a year-round economy in so many ways," said Kavanagh. "And Billings really sees itself as a business economy."

Leaders say the new terminal at Billings Logan, which will double its jet bridge gates to eight in April of 2024, contributes to the success of bringing in new flights.

"Billings is part of a truly global world," said Mayor Bill Cole. "And our economic future depends on our ability to connect to that world."