Missoula is getting more direct flights next summer. American Airlines and the Missoula International Airport announced Monday that direct service will begin in June: a seasonal route from Chicago and a year-round direct connection with Dallas.
Airport deputy director Brian Ellestad says that this has been a long time coming.
"We've been in contact with American probably more than three years, but within the last few years we actually got an air service development grant from the federal government," Ellestad says.
The grant will bring Missoula $600,000. Donations, mostly from local businesses, and funds from the Tourism Business Improvement District will add up to about a million dollars total for the project, Ellestad says.
"We can do what’s called a minimum revenue guarantee from the community that will help offset any startup costs that you might have in the market," says Ellestad.
For travelers, Ellestad says the new routes likely mean lower airfares. He calls that good news for locals who want to get out of town and those who hope to increase tourism dollars in the state.
"It brings in a whole new set of visitors, for year round and during the summer. It kind of opens up if people want to come here and recreate, fly-fishing, or eat in restaurants."
The two new routes will start on June 7, along with a new seasonal United flight to Los Angeles that the airport announced last month.