After years of planning, the expansion and remodeling project of the Billings Airport was kicked off last week with a ground breaking. Among the dignitaries present, the $55 million project was, frequently, referred to as a “huge deal,” for Billings.
The project will expand the airport’s capacity and update it to provide the many amenities that passengers expect of a modern airport. It will make travelers “comfortable,” said Airport Director Kevin Ploehn, Director of Aviation & Transit. The Billings Airport – well on its way to having a record year for enplanements – is hosting almost a half million enplanements annually. Its freight business, too, is rapidly growing, tracking at a 22 percent increase for 2019.
None of the project is being funded by tax dollars, emphasized Ploehn. The funding has been generated through FAA ticket taxes and fees from concessions, some of which has come back to the airport through grants. Continued revenues from those sources will finance a bond for which the airport, (administered by the City of Billings) will be applying over the next couple of months.
Much of the first phase of the project is to prepare areas to accommodate airport activity during the next construction phases. It involves remodeling the queuing area and skylight, building the Cape Air gate, and completing the stairwell and elevator vestibule.
The next phase of construction will be let or bid during the winter with construction to begin in March, to be completed in 2021.
Construction of the first phase, expected to take about six months, is being done by Sletten Construction for $3.3 million.
The project’s engineers are Morrison Maierle and the architects are from A&E.
The entire project is to be completed by the end of 2023. It will include expanding the number of gates from five to eight in a new terminal, new screening area, gift shop, kids’ play room, restaurants and concessions, a new great room, additional seating, rest rooms, etc.