Low-cost airline to offer non-stop seasonal flights to Los Angeles

As Glacier Park International Airport (GPIA) continues to make progress on expanding its multi-million-dollar terminal and passenger numbers continue to grow during the off-season, officials announced Tuesday that Avelo Airlines will begin offering seasonal nonstop flights from Kalispell to Los Angels.

The airline’s service will begin on May 22 and will operate twice a week on Mondays and Fridays, with direct flights to Hollywood Burbank Airport in Los Angeles.

“It’s central to a lot of exciting things that are happening in the Los Angeles Basin,” GPIA Director Rob Ratkowski said at a Kalispell Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday. “LA is our numbers market, and has been for a long time.”

The low-cost airline offers introductory one-way fares between Kalispell and Burbank, starting at $49 one-way on Boeing 737 aircraft.

“We focus on nonstop service with no connections, and we love convenient local airports like Glacier, and that’s what Burbank is,” said Avelo Airlines CEO Greg Baden.

The additional carrier is the result of passenger growth at GPIA, which is on track to become the second-busiest airport in the state behind Bozeman’s Yellowstone International Airport, according to Ratkowski. The Missoula Montana airport is currently ranked #2.

Last year, GPIA saw 850,000 passengers, and while the peak summer months continue to see high numbers, Ratkowski says that the traffic numbers in the shoulder season have increased significantly compared to recent years.

According to data from the Montana Department of Transportation, there were 30,856 shipments on GPIA this January compared to 25,722 a year earlier. There were 28,310 shipments last month compared to 25,124 in February 2022. In January 2014, there were only 14,220 shipments.

“We are seeing this sea of ​​changes at the airport where the off-seasons can hold up much better,” Ratkowski said. “We have a lot of new people living here and they are using the airport in the off-season.”

As GPIA travel numbers continue to break records, the first phase of the facility’s $150 million terminal expansion is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, including renovations to parts of the TSA checkpoint. , new access bridges and waiting areas, expanded retail stores, restaurants and the first escalator in the state.

Additional dining options will be included at the airport and officials are working with a main concessionaire, which will be run by Burbank-based Metropolitan Culinary Services. Montana Coffee Traders will have two airport locations along with Montana Gift Corral and Polebridge Mercantile.

“It was very important to us that the local community be represented in our building through this process,” Ratkowski said. “We found a great dealership that is local.”

Phase two of the completion of the terminal expansion will be determined once federal funds are received by GPIA officials.

Ratkowski said the architecture and design will represent “the rugged outdoor character of Montana” while creating a “comforting feeling of luxury” with an outdoor lounge.

“It will be the cornerstone of our community,” Ratkowski said.