Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport File

Delta and United Airlines flights prepare for take off Tuesday afternoon, March 19, 2019, at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

Amid record growth, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is getting a big grant to help with upgrades.

Just shy of $3 million, the Federal Aviation Administration grant will pay for ramp expansion, snow-removal equipment and three new passenger boarding bridges. Part of the Airport Improvement Program, the FAA gave $23.5 million to 15 airports in Montana.

The Bozeman airport gets about $3 million in grants for improvements every year, director Brian Sprenger said, so the money was expected. Every plane ticket is taxed, with a portion going into an aviation trust fund. That trust fund pays for FAA operations, and a portion goes back into airports for property improvements, Sprenger said.

Grant-funded projects will help accommodate the airport’s growth, he said. More — and bigger — airplanes are landing at the airport, which require more infrastructure. Statistics from June show a 21% increase in the number of people arriving and departing the airport from the same month last year.

The 164,211 passengers in June was about 500 short of the airport’s monthly record, set last July. In 2018, the airport set a passenger record for the ninth year in a row, with 1.3 million passengers, about 30% of all airline passengers in Montana.

The money comes as the airport is in the middle of several big projects. Terminal expansion began three months ago, and when it’s done, Bozeman will be home to the largest terminal in the state.

On top of that, rental car companies are now operating out of the new $30 million parking garage, which Sprenger said is the largest parking structure in the state. The parking garage will be open to the public next week, he said.

Sprenger said the airport will also begin construction on taxiway improvements and other infrastructure upgrades for private hangars later this summer.

Abby Lynes can be reached at alynes@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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