Terminal extension underway at Billings Logan International Airport

BILLINGS – About a month before peak season takes off at Billings Logan International Airport, construction workers are progressing through phase two of a $ 60 million terminal expansion project, Kevin Ploehn said on Tuesday. , director of the airport of aviation and transit.

“It’s starting to come together. It’s phase two. They’ll finish this room, so hopefully we can move everyone from the old Hall B to this new area, and then start improving the appearance of the new Hall B, “Ploehn says.

T2 News / Mitch Lagge

Billings Logan International Airport Director of Aviation and Transit Kevin Ploehn speaks with MTN News on Tuesday outside Building Hall A

Workers finished laying the concrete for the ground floor of Hall A and parts of the roof began to come together on Monday, Ploehn said. The expansion will allow the airport to handle more flights and give it an updated look and feel. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

Ploehn said the city, which owns the airport, likely saved around $ 20 million by starting work to finance the project in April 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If construction had been delayed, the airport could have been locked into a higher interest rate, Ploehn said.

“After talking to our subcontractor, he says whatever they’re submitting right now is probably about 30% higher than it was. You take a $ 60 million project and add 30 or 33% to that, that’s another $ 20 million. So we’re pretty happy to have started when we did, ”Ploehn said.

Ploehn said there wasn’t much of a bond market for airports during the pandemic, but they found a lender with First Interstate Bank and struck a deal in July 2020 with the construction of Terminal A in August 2020. .

“There weren’t a lot of people interested in airport bonds at the time. We were sort of trying to weigh the financial package and should we go, shouldn’t we go?” Ploehn said.

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T2 News / Mitch Lagge

A view of construction underway at Billings Logan International Airport in May 2021.

The first phase of the project started in September 2019 and was completed in early 2020. It included smaller building elements like a disabled-accessible stairwell and the removal of the deli from the airport to add supports for a new skylight above the ASD screening. area.

“It was just a bunch of messy little internal projects that we had to get through,” Ploehn said.

Ploehn said the start of 2021 was looking much better than 2020, when passenger numbers fell off a cliff. In 2019, Billings Logan set a record with 904,873 passengers, and Ploehn said this year is close to that pace.

As of April 2021, the number of people passing through security was 77% of the number seen in April 2019.

“We are much more advanced than what you will see in the rest of the country. Bozeman has already surpassed it all. People already come to the state and travel. We have people leaving. I mean we’re already seeing a lot more activity right now, ”Ploehn said.

Air travel typically begins to increase in Billings around the second week of June and peaks in July or August, Ploehn said.

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T2 News / Mitch Lagge

A United Airlines flight is taxiing for take-off from Billings Logan International Airport.

Airlines are stepping up their destinations this summer, Ploehn said. There are 20% more seats available for purchase this year compared to 2019, Ploehn said.

Allegiant this month launched direct flights to Portland, Oregon. It will also offer direct summer flights to Los Angeles and San Diego.

Additionally, Ploehn said American Airlines will start a direct flight to Chicago which will run from June through October.

Ploehn said that with more planes entering and exiting the airport, the schedule will be more compact. So if people need to take a flight this summer, they should arrive about an hour and 15 minutes before take off.

“We were fortunate to see planes leaving about every half hour in the morning. Now we’ll start to see some of them double down. When that happens, we usually have a little delay on the TSA line, ”Ploehn said.

To learn more about the airport expansion project and to view conceptual drawings and a video overview of the finished project, visit the airport’s website by clicking here.

RELATED: Air Travel in Billings Expected to Increase This Summer


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