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Once Allegiant added a flight to Los Angeles, Billings Airport is fighting for other routes



Billings, Montana – Following another significant announcement that Allegiant will begin operating direct flights between Billings and Los Angeles in the spring of 2024, Billings airport and city officials met with Southwest Airlines this week.

“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.

Business and tourism are predicted to benefit from those flights.

The Airport Service Commission is always trying to get more planes into Billings. It is composed of the airport director, Big Sky Economic Development, and the Billings Chamber.

The past few weeks have been extremely hectic at Billings Logan International Airport.

It was the unveiling of Sun Country Airlines’ new summer schedule to Minneapolis last month.

Allegiant announced Thursday and Sunday flights from May to August between Los Angeles and Billings this week.

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

From November 2009 to August 2012, Allegiant operated flights between Los Angeles and Billings.

In recent years, other flight choices out of Billings have also vanished, most notably Frontier Airlines, which used to connect Billings with Denver. In 2021, that airline departed.

“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.”

However, efforts have been made to buck the trend by the airport and the city.

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

Although negotiations are ongoing, the Billings Airport Service Committee intends to use funds from a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to explore the possibility of adding flights to Los Angeles in addition to 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.”

In terms of airline passengers, Bozeman remains the state leader in Montana, with Billings falling from second to fourth place in 2022.

Committee members, however, assert that the markets are very 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.”

The success of bringing in new flights is attributed, according to leaders, to the new terminal at Billings Logan, which will double its jet bridge gates to eight in April of 2024.

“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.”


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