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New Billings airport concourse delayed until at least April

Vendors list includes Cinnabon, Stacked
Billings airport concourse
Posted at 4:00 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 18:00:39-05

BILLINGS — First it was December, then March. Now, it’s hopefully an April 1st opening date for Billings Logan Airport’s new concourse. Aviation Director Kevin Ploehn says even if it’s not 100 percent completed, he wants to get people in as soon as possible.

"There’s big gaps in (the flight schedules) where there’s really not much going on, and the contractors can come back in and fill in during those big gaps," Ploehn said.

That’s just one of the shortcuts airport management has come up with as they try to get bodies in their new $60 million project. All that basically remains in the gates area is installing chairs, which will come with more device charging capability. The jet bridges are already attached to four gates that will serve five planes at any one time. The hospitality area however is a different story.

"The Great Room is a little behind," Ploehn said. "We’re missing lights - they're on a ship somewhere off the coast of California. We're missing some tile - that comes from Italy. It's been one thing after another."

Billings airport concourse workers
A crew cuts tile inside Billings Logan Airport's new concourse.

Ploehn hopes the central bar in the Great Room will be functioning by April. They’ll set up a temporary food service area across from it, because the new concessions room won’t be ready.

"They’re still in designing process, so we're hoping sometime in the summer," Ploehn said.

Stacked, a Montana Grill will occupy most of the room. SkyDine out of South Dakota will run food operations out of the current Gateway restaurant until Stacked is ready, and then SkyDine will remodel Gateway to have two sit-down options.

But Wade DeHaven, who came through Billings airport during his first ever trip on a commercial jet this week, doesn't think that’s enough.

"Not for what I’m looking for," he said. "A lot of times you’re in a hurry - you don’t have huge layovers."

Billings airport concourse tile
Newly installed tile sets inside Billings Logan Airport's new concourse.

The concourse will have a Mountain Mudd coffee bar, and Cinnabon will have a space. It’s all an effort to make Billings a more attractive destination and compete with a Bozeman airport that has flown past it.

"Right now, it’s a little problem for us because they have more capacity than we do," Ploehn said of Bozeman. "As our planes get full, ticket prices go up. People are looking at the Bozeman market and some are driving there (to fly). When you have a family of four or five and you can save $100 per ticket, why wouldn't you?"

One silver lining in the Billings process? The delays and supply chain issues haven't impacted the project's budget.

"Our contract had a guaranteed amount, so we’re not seeing a lot of cost issues because a lot was locked in prior to COVID," Ploehn said. "One of the fortunate things we did was go-ahead during the pandemic. A lot of airports that didn't are paying 30% more than we are."

Billings’ busiest travel season is always in the summer, and the airport wants all of those eyes to like what they see.

Billings airport concourse jet bridge
A view down a jet bridge inside Billings Logan Airport's new concourse.