KALISPELL, Mont. - While travel numbers are up across the state, one western Montana airport is seeing exceptional growth.
Just this year, Glacier Park International Airport has added nine new routes as well as service from three new airlines.
Airport Director Rob Ratkowski called this growth remarkable. Having just one new carrier in a big year is a big deal, so having three? That's pretty unique, he shared.
According to Ratkowski, the new routes add about a hundred thousand new seats compared to 2019.
In order to accommodate the added travelers, the airport is making temporary changes to the building, adding walls in the lobby and expanding parking.
Meanwhile, crews are working on a more permanent expansion project that will triple the size of the building.
Airport officials are also coordinating with airlines to spread out flight times as much as possible.
The airport director shared these added flights show the Flathead community is growing.
"It's a little bit of the chicken and the egg," Ratkowski said. "The carrier sees demand here, so they put airplanes in the market, but that demand is generated by what is happening in the community, so I figure it's just a reflection of the larger Flathead economy overall."
According to the director, the summer schedule is pretty set and he doesn't expect any big changes.
Looking ahead, he's hopeful that some of these flights continue throughout winter after tourist season ends.
If you're traveling through Glacier Park International this summer, you're encouraged to arrive two hours early to make sure you have plenty of time to get through checkpoints.