2 Montana airports to share $9.7M in federal funds

Two Montana airports will share $9.7 million in federal funds, to help with airport expansion, terminal reconstruction, safety and aircraft parking. 

Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell will receive $3.5 million in federal funds to help it buy an airport rescue and firefighting vehicle, expand the commercial terminal apron for more airplane parking and help with design work for upcoming terminal expansion, an airport official said Wednesday.

And $6,283,353 will be distributed to Missoula International Airport to help with construction of a new terminal. 

Sen. Steve Daines announced that $9.7 million in Airport Improvement Program funds, under the U.S. Department of Transportation, would be given to Missoula International Airport and the Glacier airport in Kalispell.

“These grants will ensure that our airports in Missoula and Glacier Park have the most up to date equipment and resources necessary for not only Montana’s strong tourism industry but aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles as well,” Daines said Tuesday in a news release.

So far in 2019, $19 million of the funds has been given to Montana airports and infrastructure. AIP funds provide grants for the planning and development of public-use airports, according to the FAA website. AIP funds are drawn from the Airport and Airway Trust fund, which is from user fees, fuel taxes, and other revenues. 

Ratkwoski said the Glacier airport is planning a large terminal project for the fall of 2020 that will include expanding the number of aircraft parking positions from five to seven.

He said the new terminal would likely have six gates.

Ratkowski said the airport has a long-term capital improvement plan it is working on with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Cris Jensen, Missoula airport director, said the funds will be used in the construction of a new $67 million terminal. He said the current terminal was built in 1948 and has expanded 11 times. The new terminal will be on the site of the current terminal. 

He said the terminal construction will be through a phased approach and be over a few years in which a portion of the terminal is razed then rebuilt, then another portion is razed and rebuilt.

Jensen said he appreciated the federal funding.

“We’re very happy,” he said. “We’re always happy when congressional folks support us and understand the importance of what we are trying to do here.”

He said Daines recently visited the airport and saw “the challenges we are dealing with.”

Glacier had had about 600,000 people arrive and depart in 2018, 

Jensen said the Missoula airport is expected to have a record 920,000 people arrive and depart this year.