HELENA – In 2017 the Helena Regional Airport saw a record number of passengers- 209,000. The high number made it one of the most successful years for the organization.
Airport Director Jeff Wadekamper says that load factors on the flights were great, with most flights being at 50-80% capacity and airlines increasing aircraft size to better accommodate those loads.
The airport tower numbers also saw a 29% increase over the previous year, due in large part to the increased number of fire tankers battling Montana’s wildfires this past summer.
“Every facet of industry that operates out of here we saw an increase,” says Wadekamper, “Whether it was general aviation, airlines, fire tanker aircraft, military, air ambulances, air cargo every aspect was up this year.”
Airport staff says that the scanner is a huge improvement for the efficiently of TSA screening and the scanner really improved screening for people with prosthetics.
The airport campus had growth with the Boeing fabrication facility expansion. Currently the campus, which includes businesses like Costco, has over 2,000 jobs and has a $169 million economic impact on the Helena community according to the airport.
During 2018 the airport is looking at more ways to improve and grow their operation. Last year they applied for a grant though the Department of U.S. Transportation that would allow them to potentially add a second daily Seattle, Washington flight and a flight to Portland, Oregon.