de-ice plane airport

Mike Pasque de-ices a plane bound for Salt Lake City Thursday morning in front of a rising sun at Gallatin Field Airport in this file photo.

More than 1.5 million passengers passed through Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in 2019, an increase of 17.3 percent over 2018, airport officials announced this week.

This is the 10th consecutive year that passenger traffic through the airport set a new record, and during that decade, the number of travelers passing through the airport annually more than doubled. The airport is the busiest in the state, accommodating a third of all airline passengers traveling to and from Montana.

The airport’s control tower handled an all-time record 97,867 aircraft operations during 2019, up 8.1 percent, and business aviation operations increased 35 percent to 11,868. 

Last summer, the Gallatin Airport Authority began the process of updating the airport’s master plan, which will guide facility and infrastructure development for the next 20 years. Airport Director Brian Sprenger said Wednesday that about half that process, including passenger projections, has been completed. 

Those projections indicate that the airport’s traffic will double once again in 20 years time, reaching about 3.2 million travelers annually by 2039.

The new master plan will include facility and infrastructure projects based largely on projected passenger numbers. Individual components of the plan include the on-site road system; airspace and control tower requirements; and the needs of terminal building tenants and general aviation operators located elsewhere on the campus.

Sprenger said the board continues to work on the individual elements of the plan, and will present its findings for public review and comment within the next few months.

A number of construction projects took place at the airport in 2019. A new 1,100-stall multi-use parking garage was opened, and construction began on a four-gate terminal concourse expansion. Central Valley Fire District opened its new main station on leased airport land, and 19 private hangars were under construction.

During 2019, a number of airlines based 

at the airport expanded their services, including Allegiant, United, and Delta. American is planning to add a non-stop Saturday flight to Philadelphia this summer, and Alaska is poised to upgrade aircraft on two of its four daily nonstop flights to Seattle/Tacoma. 

In June, Sun Country Airlines will begin operating out of the airport with seasonal, non-stop service to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Delta will increase its non-stop service to Atlanta, making Bozeman the smallest market in the western U.S. with daily, year-round service to the world’s largest hub airport.