Glacier Park International Airport set a passenger record this summer and is on pace to surpass its annual mark for the fifth year in a row.
A total of 97,206 people boarded flights leaving Kalispell between June and August, nearly 200 more than last year’s record summer. Another 99,000 people arrived at GPIA in that span.
For the entire year, ridership is up 3 percent at the local airport with a total of 343,938 passengers arriving or departing from the Kalispell airport. June and July surpassed last year’s totals while August saw a slight dip with 1,576 fewer passengers.
The record summer comes at the same time the region’s largest attraction — Glacier National Park — is similarly experiencing all-time large crowds. Glacier Park has attracted a total of 2.25 million people so far in 2016, an 18 percent increase. The park is on pace to break its annual record for the third year in a row.
Earlier this month, airport officials announced additional flights to a pair of major markets this winter. Building on the success of its revenue guarantee programs, the Glacier AERO group has secured new direct air service from San Francisco to Glacier Park International Airport for the 2016-17 winter season. It has also expanded holiday air service for the successful direct flight from Chicago, now entering its third season.
“The appeal of the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park region as a place to live, work and play is reflected in the growing air service numbers,” Interim Airport Director Rob Ratkowski stated. “We appreciate our airline partners and their demonstrated faith in the region’s growth – adding up-gauged aircraft, increased flight frequency and service to/through more hubs.”
Montana is experiencing another big year of air travel, which is up 4 percent overall across the state. Missoula’s airport is reporting an 8.9 percent increase in passengers through August, with 510,923. Bozeman reported an increase of 8.2 percent, with 768,734 passengers. Billings has seen a slight increase of 0.7 percent, with 569,889 passengers. Great Falls is experiencing a slight decrease of 4.2 percent, with 242,466 passengers.
Last year a record total of 470,238 revenue passengers traveled through Glacier Park International Airport. That included 236,628 passengers who boarded a flight in Kalispell and 233,642 who arrived on a flight in Kalispell.
GPIA is served by Alaska, Allegiant, Delta and United with year-round direct service to Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle. Additional seasonal service is offered to Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland/San Francisco and Portland.
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