Las Vegas-based Allegiant airlines will offer a new direct flight from Kalispell to Phoenix beginning May 15.
The year-round route will operate twice weekly, flying from Glacier Park International Airport to Phoenix via Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
“Phoenix is a great destination for us in the winter when we can get to the sunshine easily, and in summer Phoenix people want to come up here,” Rob Ratkowski, director of Glacier Park International Airport, said. “It’s a good year-round route.”
The Phoenix service will be a second all-season run for Allegiant, which also flies between Kalispell and Las Vegas. The airline makes seasonal flights to Oakland and Los Angeles.
Glacier Park International last offered direct flights to Phoenix with now-defunct USAir in 2004 and 2005.
The service from Kalispell to Phoenix is part of a 16-route expansion announced by Allegiant. Ratkowski said the airport has been talking with Allegiant for several years about adding the destination. Part of what sealed the deal was Allegiant’s fleet transition from Boeing MD-80 airplanes to Airbus A320s. According to airline news source FlightGlobal, Allegiant’s move to an all-A320 fleet was made to improve the airline’s reliability and cut down on irregular operations.
Allegiant is offering an introductory fare on the new route for $69 each way with a roundtrip itinerary. However, flights with the introductory fare must be purchased by today for travel by Aug. 13, 2019.
Glacier Park International Airport’s next focus is on expanding the terminal facilities. Ratkowski said plans are in the design phase so the full scope of the major construction project is not yet determined.
Recent passenger numbers illustrate the need for a larger airport, Ratkowski said. In 2018, more than 307,000 passengers traveled through Glacier Park International, a 13 percent jump from 2017. The 270,000 passengers in 2017 were the record up to that time.
“We have seen fantastic growth in the last five years,” Ratkowski said. “It’s definitely time to look at some new building to keep up with growth.”
He expects the new construction to start late summer of 2020.
Currently four major airlines — Alaska, Delta, Allegiant and United — serve the Flathead Valley. Cities with year-round service include Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle. Additional cities with seasonal service include Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago and Portland.
Last month American Airlines announced direct flights from Kalispell to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare. Those new routes begin June 6.