Low-cost Airline Carrier to Offer Seasonal Direct Flight to Los Angeles

Avelo Airlines will provide twice weekly flights to Hollywood Burbank Airport starting May 22; Glacier Park International Airport continues breaking passenger traffic records as terminal expansion progresses

By Maggie Dresser
Terminal expansion construction at Glacier International Airport in Kalispell. Courtesy photo

As Glacier Park International Airport (GPIA) continues to make progress on its multi-million-dollar terminal expansion and passenger numbers keep growing during the shoulder season, officials on Tuesday announced that Avelo Airlines will begin offering seasonal direct flights from Kalispell to Los Angeles.

The airline service will begin May 22 and operate twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays, flying direct to the Hollywood Burbank Airport in Los Angeles.

“It’s central to a lot of cool things that are happening in the L.A. basin,” GPIA Director Rob Ratkowski said at a Kalispell Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday. “L.A. is our number market, and it has been for a long time.”

The low-cost carrier is offering introductory one-way fares between Kalispell and Burbank, starting at $49 one way on Boeing 737 aircrafts.

“We focus on nonstop service without connections, and we love convenient hometown airports just like Glacier, and that’s what Burbank is,” Avelo Airlines CEO Greg Baden said.

The additional airline is a result of GPIA’s passenger growth, which is on track to becoming the state’s second-busiest airport behind Bozeman’s Yellowstone International Airport, according to Ratkowski. Missoula Montana Airport currently holds the No. 2 ranking.

Last year, GPIA saw 850,000 passengers and, while peak summer months continue to see high numbers, Ratkowski says the shoulder-season traffic numbers are up significantly compared to recent years.

According to Montana Department of Transportation data, there were 30,856 enplanements at GPIA this January compared to 25,722 the year before. Last month there, were 28,310 enplanements compared to 25,124 in February of 2022. In January of 2014, there were only 14,220 enplanements.

“We’re seeing this sea of change in the airport where shoulder seasons are able to support themselves much better,” Ratkowski said. “We have a bunch of new people living here and they’re using the airport in the offseason.”

As GPIA travel numbers continue to break records, the first phase of the facility’s $150 million terminal expansion is scheduled to finish at the end of the year, which includes renovations to portions of the TSA checkpoint, new jet bridges and waiting areas, expanded retail, restaurants and the state’s first escalator.

Additional dining options will be included at the airport and officials are working with a master concessionaire, which will be managed by Metropolitan Culinary Services based out of Burbank. Montana Coffee Traders will have two locations in the airport along with Montana Gift Corral and Polebridge Mercantile.

“It was super important to us that the local community be represented in our building through this process,” Ratkowski said. “We found a great concessionaire who is local.”

Phase two of the terminal expansion completion will be determined once GPIA officials are awarded federal funds.

Ratkowski said the architecture and design will represent “Montana’s rugged outdoor character” while creating a “comforting sense of luxury” with an outdoor lounge.

“It’s going to be a capstone of our community,” Ratkowski said.