For the fifth year in a row, passenger numbers set an all-time record at the Missoula International Airport. Deputy Director Brian Ellestad says there was a 9.8% increase in 2018.

“For this current year, there were 848,444 passengers between arriving and departing,” Ellestad said. “That was 75,819 more than the previous year. Some years have been double digits and some years have been in that five or six percent range, but this year was almost 10%.”

According to Ellestad, increased competition in their market place has created cheaper airfares for their customers.

“I think it was getting American Airlines in our market, which then created a lot more competition,” Ellestad said. “It forced United to bring mainline in here to try and create a better customer experience. Delta is competing against United. Once you get that first snowball rolling, all the other airlines try and keep their market share going. That is the value of competition in the market.”

Since 2000, Ellestad says Missoula has experienced an 85% increase in passenger traffic. He mentioned that several seasonal services are continuing to run for longer periods of time due to growing demand.