One Flight Canceled, Others Announced - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

One Flight Canceled, Others Announced

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MISSOULA -

The days surrounding Thanksgiving are known as some of the busiest travel days of the year. While Montana airports see a lot of traffic this week, it's nothing compared to the summer tourism months. On Tuesday we got word the Missoula International Airport will be even busier this summer.

As a series of storms along the east coast mean a travel nightmare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, at least one Montana airport is reporting a problem of its own.

Deputy Director of the Missoula International Airport Brian Ellestad says Horizon Air had to cancel a flight Tuesday morning due to mechanical issues, stranding about 75 passengers.

"I guess this morning customers took it well in stride," he said. "They understood everything's full right now, so they did the best they could and handled it well."

Some of those passengers were able to book other flights while several had to take a bus to Spokane for more travel options.

"If you think the airport is busy right now," Ellestad said, "just wait till this summer."

"I think it's going to be our busiest ever," he said.

After visiting with several airlines, Ellestad reported to the board Tuesday that four major airlines are expanding their service to The Garden City.

Alaska Airlines will add a daily flight to Portland in early May.

Delta is doubling its Missoula-to-Atlanta service.

In June, Allegiant will bring back flights to Oakland and Los Angeles and United is in the early process of considering doubling its flights to Denver.

"The more options we have for our customers, the happier they're going to be and more competition hopefully brings down prices," Ellestad said.

While all these flights mean options for Missoula travelers, they also mean dollar signs for the community. With more people coming into western Montana, that means more money going to local businesses and Ellestad said the airport may even look to hire additional staffing to accommodate the extra traffic.

Ellestad said the airport is still in negotiations with Southwest and Frontier Airlines to bring flights to Missoula. He said those conversations are in the early stages.

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