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Billings airport adds direct winter flights to Phoenix
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Billings airport adds direct winter flights to Phoenix

American Airlines

American Airlines' inaugural nonstop flight from Dallas to Billings arrives and is showered by water cannons from airport firefighters in June 2017.

Billings Logan International Airport will add a second direct flight to Phoenix beginning in November.

The seasonal flight to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will be operated through American Airlines from November to March, said Kevin Ploehn Billings' director of aviation and transit.

American Airlines also operates a direct flight from Billings to Dallas. Allegiant Airlines offers a year-long direct flight to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, outside Phoenix. 

The non-stop flight is expected to be the only one from Montana to Phoenix with American Airlines.

Allegiant offers direct flights to Mesa from Bozeman, Great Falls, Missoula and Kalispell, as well as Billings.

Like most airlines, American has seen fewer travelers during the pandemic. On Thursday the airline announced it was suspending flights to 15 cities. 

The U.S. has seen an 89% drop in passenger volume from June 2019 to May, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Travel Statistics.

Now, the rest of the nation is floating between 25% to 30%, Ploehn said. 

Compared to national standards, Billings is doing relatively well, he said. 

"I suspect it's one of the things playing into" American Airlines adding a flight in Billings, Ploehn said. 

To date, the Billings airport saw about a 48% drop in arrivals this year compared to 2019. 

July saw about 53% of normal passengers, or about 23,000 passengers. Last year July had just shy of 50,000 travelers. That was up from a 69% decrease in arrivals in June. 

Ploehn thinks August numbers are on track to be about half the arrivals as last August. 

"So I'd say we've had a pretty successful summer," Ploehn said. 

Montana hasn't seen as drastic a cut to tourism this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yellowstone National Park reported more tourists in July compared to last year, with about a 2% increase in visitation.

"Everybody wants to come to the Big Sky," Ploehn said. 


Retrospective: Airshows in Billings

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Day General Assignment Reporter

General assignment reporter for The Billings Gazette.

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