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Improving Missoula's Air Service

Please review the information below from the Missoula Economic Partnership and complete the brief survey:

Anyone flying in or out of Missoula International Airport in the past year probably noticed most flights had very few empty seats, and some were and still are downright packed.  The Missoula County Airport Authority (MCAA) and the Missoula Economic Partnership (MEP) observed the same thing, and we are evaluating options for developing a new mechanism to assist with attracting new airlines and negotiating with the airlines to provide round trip air service to in-demand cities from Missoula.

But why does Missoula need more air service?  Some of us are from out of state.  Many of us are native to Montana.  Nearly all of us want or need to travel elsewhere for work or leisure.  Montana depends on air service for much of this travel. In Missoula, affordable air service is a critical form of transportation, and without more affordable air fares, we will continue to pay more than other markets to fly.

Attracting another air carrier into Missoula will give everyone who flies in and out of MSO lower air fares through increased competition.  In addition, travelers will have access to a wider variety travel options through the introduction of a new air carrier, and direct access to new hubs and destinations.

In 2015, the primary mechanism used to grow a community’s air service is called an air service revenue guarantee.  An air service revenue guarantee establishes a minimum level of revenue (or passengers) an airline will receive for specified service to an identified destination for a limited amount of time.

Air service revenue guarantees have become the standard for attracting new air carriers into communities across the U.S. and beyond for the last 5-10 years.  Without some sort of risk sharing mechanism in place, new airlines - like American Airlines or Southwest - will not bring in new aircraft and provide the direct, affordable flights Missoula needs. 

Communities as diverse as Bozeman, Denver, Myrtle Beach, and Salt Lake City, offer air service revenue guarantees to airlines to expand their air service.  Without our own air service revenue guarantee program, Missoula will look less attractive to the airlines when compared to communities that do offer such incentives. 

Importantly, Federal Aviation Administration regulations prohibit airports from using airport revenues to pay for any expense except for direct airport costs like maintaining the terminal, ensuring the runways are in good operating condition, etc.  In other words, the airport cannot contribute cash to support a revenue guarantee. 

Therefore, if Missoula wants to develop an air service revenue guarantee fund, it’s going to have to be a community-based and funded, grass roots effort, and we want your input regarding your interest in supporting such an initiative.  

Whether you live in town or outside of Missoula County, whether you work for Missoula County or the University of Montana, the next time you want or need to travel to New York, Texas, California, Hawaii, overseas, or elsewhere, from Missoula, we hope you’ll think twice about the cost of air travel, and consider supporting an air service revenue guarantee in Missoula.  

Please click on the following link and take the brief survey to help us develop better air service in Missoula.