Brian Sprenger with the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport came to speak to the Gallatin Association of Realtors® on Friday, November 13th about the airport and its impact on the local economy.
Keeping it simple, our airport is growing steadily at around 5% per year and Brian doesn’t anticipate it slowing down anytime soon. It contributes $400 million of economic impact annually to our area and employs around 700 people through 30 employers.
Airport growth is fueled by our location with proximity to Bozeman Yellowstone National Park and world class skiing and our local populations’ propensity to fly. Yellowstone International Airport is now the 8th largest in the region (UT, ID, WA, OR, CO, WY, MT) and 118th in the nation. It’s one of the strongest growing airports in the nation.
It’s estimated that one third of the travelers through our airport are visiting, The airport is working hard to introduce new direct flights through American Airlines (not currently in the MT market) direct to Dallas/Ft. Worth for at least a seasonal test period. Frontier has reduced service to Bozeman with just one flight direct to Denver seasonally – but United has increased seats which has picked up the slack. Alaska Airlines is expanding service and is boasting some impressive stats, with service to the Seattle/Portland market up 100% in the past 3 years. This has instigated Delta to also add Seattle flights. There are currently 14 non-stop designations in the height of the season from Bozeman to locations around the country. Air travel tends to be more ‘east coast’-centric however, than west coast and we’re the only airport in the range of other markets of similar sized airports to offer non-stop travel to NYC LaGuardia and Newark.
All of the international flights currently coming into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport are private flights – partially for business and partially pleasure. There is about a $25,000 a year shortfall in the customs service which is shared between the airport, Yellowstone Club and Yellowstone Jet Center.
Upcoming projects at the airport include $10 million annual expenditures on improved jetways, amenities, a second airstrip to allow for separation of smaller craft flights and jet flights (partially spurred by the expansion of the popularity of the pilot program at Gallatin College), a parking garage and possibly a terminal and gate expansion.
Studies have been completed on the feasibility of adding hotels to the airport land, and currently those numbers don’t pencil. The airport has no current plans for expansion onto undeveloped airport lands using land leases for hotels or retail. Perhaps with development on private land closer to the interstate, this will become more of an option in the future.
Some impressive statistics:
- Percentage increases 2009/2010 vs 2014/2015
- Passengers up 45%
- Parking revenue (a good way to track local travel) up 121%
- Big Sky Skier numbers up 47%
- Yellowstone visitation up 10%
- MSU student enrollment up 20%
- Bozeman City population up 12%
- Gallatin County population up 9%
- Unemployment in Bozeman down 66%
- 44.2% increase in passenger numbers since 2010. Bigger planes.
- At peak there are 80 landings and take offs per hour.