Billings Airport will be receiving more grant funding and anticipates new business expansion.
Kevin Ploehn, Director of Aviation & Transit announced that the Alpine Aviation is interested in building a 20,000 square foot hangar and office space to complement the operations that currently exist at the Airport’s Business Park, during the September meeting of the Billings Aviation and Transit Commission.
Alpine is based in Provo, Utah and operates over 100 cargo routes in the U.S. —with hub operations in Billings, Denver, Sioux Falls and Salt Lake. Alpine primarily hauls freight for UPS and mail for the Postal Service, and operates around 400 flights per month out of Billings, and business continues to grow for them, said Ploehn.
Ploehn said this could be the first of a number of Alpine buildings and he wants to set the stage for any future development by getting the water, sewer, electrical, and road infrastructure planned out now.
Ploehn also reported that Northwestern Energy is interested in a 40-year lease of about 15 acers of airport land at the east end of the airport along the highway next to the existing substation property.
Billings Airport will also be receiving an additional grant from the construction of the Terminal Building. The grant consists of $4,026,476 of Discretionary AIP (Airport Improvement Program) funding, $261,849 of Entitlement AIP funding, and $476,480 of CARES Act local matching funds for a total grant of $4,764,805.
The Airport had received an earlier grant for the Terminal Construction of $2,352,628.
The Airport has applied for a grant with the State Department of Environmental Quality for $25,500 to offset the cost of installing three dual headed electrical vehicle chargers. This grant is part of the Volkswagen Settlement that the State of Montana received for offsetting combustion engine pollution with green sustainable energy. The project would allow six electric vehicles to be charged at the same time.
In earlier reports, Ploehn said that the recovery of Billings Airport and other airports in Montana is better than most other airports in the country. They have gone from doing about only 7 percent of their passenger numbers in the spring to about 50 percent now … while the average for the rest of the nation is about 30 percent. The reason was attributed to traffic to the national parks which drew a lot of people this summer.
Ploehn noted that in April the Billings Airport only had 2,334 enplanements, which was down 93%. That improved to 7,535 enplanements in May (down 81%) and 13,675 enplanements in June (down 70%). In August enplanements was 24,612, almost exactly 50 percent of last August.
He noted that it appeared that July and possibly August would be closer to being down 50%. Ploehn thinks it may be possible for the year to end at about 70 or 80 percent of last year’s total numbers and that will become the “new normal.”
Year-to-date figures at the end of August was near 160,000 compared to 315,000 YTD last year.