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Billings air travel decreases slightly in 2017 - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Billings air travel decreases slightly in 2017

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Air travel in and out of Billings declined just a bit last year, but is expected to increase, Billings Logan International Airport officials said Thursday.

In 2017, Billings had 853.599 passengers compared to 865,431 in 2016, a decrease of 1.37 percent.

Kevin Ploehn, director of aviation and transit for Billings, blamed a down agriculture economy and Montana's destructive summer fire season for the drop. 

Billings Logan International has been the second busiest airport in Montana behind Bozeman Yellowstone for the last five years. Last year, Bozeman posted its eighth straight year of growth, Bozeman airport officials announced Thursday.

Bozeman had 1,199,537 passengers last year, up from 1,107,168 in 2016.

Ploehn said the Billings numbers match a slightly down economy in the region.

He said nationwide, Billings would be in the middle for changes from the previous year.

In Billings, Delta Airlines accounted for a lot of Logan International's decrease, falling about 9.13 percent in and out of Billings for 2017.

Meetings with the airlines show they want to do business in Billings, airport officials said.

"They all like Billings,” Ploehn said. “They like a very consistent market. They like to see growth. They'll take very consistent over declining numbers. Billings is not going to go backwards. Just don’t see that happening. Our airport is very healthy. We're doing very well. We'll be around for a long time. Locals don't have to worry about losing any air service."

Ploehn said Billings is ready to expand the concourse, which will allow for more flights.

And Ploehn expects air travel numbers to eventually increase.

See also: Eighth record year in a row for Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

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