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Missoula airport emphasizes cheaper flights with new carrier

Posted at 3:06 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 18:30:32-05
The Missoula International Airport in Missoula. (MTN News photo)

MISSOULA – Plane tickets out of Missoula are a little cheaper now that American Airlines has landed in town, increasing competition among the carriers.

American Airlines began non-stop flights from Missoula to Dallas and Chicago last June. The U.S. Department of Transportation released 2018 third quarter airfare data showing almost $3 million in savings to Missoula.

The Missoula Economic Partnership, Destination Missoula and the Tourism Business Improvement District offered an incentive package with a revenue guarantee for the carrier to start serving Missoula — and it’s paying off for fliers.

“Traffic doubled to Dallas during that timeframe and ticket prices to Chicago dropped $130 in that time frame round trip,” said Missoula International Airport Deputy Director Brian Ellestad. “So by the time you figured everybody that traveled and everyone that traveled cross-country, it’s actually a $2.8 million savings for the community.”

Ellestad says Missoula competes with other mid-markets for carriers, so the incentive package presented to American Airlines helped bring them to the airport.

In addition to overall fare reduction, American Airlines’ entry into the Missoula market increased seat capacity, growing by 26% since June of 2018.