The effort by the community through the Billings Chamber of Commerce to bring American Airlines to Billings with the promise to subsidize any losses is being heralded as a success.
According to airport stats, in June, American Airlines had built traffic volume to 95 percent of capacity coming from Dallas, and 92 percent going to Dallas. Other airlines operating through the Billings Airport had load factors of 85 percent to 92 percent.
The fund that was established through the Chamber of Commerce, by local contributions, mostly from businesses, to match a federal grant, paid out $905,636 to American Airlines, plus $298,156 in fuel subsidies, through the inaugural year of operation. There remains $166,258 in the fund.
With the culmination of the year-long agreement, there will be no more payments and it appears that American Airlines is satisfied with the business they have experienced and will continue with the Billings – Dallas flight.
Year-to –date, American Airlines has had 15,333 enplanements from Billings.
Airport enplanements at Billings’ Logan International Field have been increasing through 2018, to a point that if the numbers continue as they have been, 2018 may be a record year, according to Kevin Ploehn, Director of Aviation & Transit.
Through the end of August enplanements were up 5.72 percent year-to- date. Total enplanements have increased from 285,846 in 2017 to 302,209. Freight volumes through the airport are also up substantially – almost 30 percent over last year. Total out-going freight in 2017 was 13,815,800 pounds, compared to 17,794,880 in 2018.
The Billings airport terminal is undergoing major renovations, some portions of which have been completed. Design is still underway for the remodel of the main terminal area. Sletten Construction Company has been selected as the General Contractor/Construction Manager for the Terminal Expansion project. They are now engaged in the process, reviewing the work completed so far, and working on cost projections and constructability of the design, according to Ploehn.