Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport unveiled its second concourse Thursday afternoon after years of planning and construction.

The $26.5 million addition will add five new gates and 75,000 square feet to what is already Montana’s largest and busiest airport.

The first flight is scheduled to arrive at the new gates on Nov. 5, just in time for the beginning of holiday travel.

The new space will also have another Montana Gift Corral gift shop and a new restaurant named after one of the most well-known peaks in the Bridgers, Ross Peak, which was visible despite Thursday’s smoke through the wall-to-wall windows facing the range.

“On a beautiful day, it’s absolutely awe-inspiring,” said Kendall Switzer, the chairman of the five-member airport authority board, about the view from B Concourse. “Our goal is to make a pleasurable experience for the general public.”

B Concourse will be home to departures and arrivals of United Airlines and Alaska Airlines flights, and will have space for additional flights as the airport continues to grow, said airport director Brian Sprenger.

While modeled to be somewhat similar to the first terminal, built in the 1970s, the new space has lots of additional features to modernize it, like the 5,200-pound pizza oven in the Ross Peak Grill, a nursing mothers room, and the service dog relief area, complete with a faux fire hydrant.

“The project is on time and under budget, so we’re really happy with that,” Sprenger said.

In addition to the space passengers will see, the new concourse has space for indoor baggage and freight handling, something Sprenger said is important because of Montana’s temperamental weather.

The airport’s passenger numbers mirrored national trends earlier in the year, with an 80% drop in travelers in March as the first wave of the pandemic swept the United States.

But it’s recovering quicker than the national average, Sprenger said.

In September, the airport’s traffic was down by about 35% compared to September 2019, Sprenger said. Nationally, air traffic is down between 55% and 60%. October’s numbers are still projections and subject to change, especially as COVID-19 infection rates fluctuate, but are projected to be down just 25% compared to the year prior.

“We’re coming up a lot quicker than the national average,” Sprenger said.

Some retail space in the new concourse will still be closed off when the concourse opens in November. That’s on purpose: It gives the airport the opportunity to grow its retail and service offerings without additional construction in B Concourse.

“It’s nice to have space that you don’t know what to do with yet,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to continue to develop.”

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.