Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Frontier Airlines will increase its number of weekly flights from Missoula to Denver this spring, and United Airlines will also make additions in response.

Boil it down and Missoula Montana Airport Director Brian Ellestad said it will likely benefit customers in the way of ticket costs. And with the summer travel season close at hand, it may also require an additional security checkpoint.

“We have reached out to TSA to review our projected passenger counts,” said Ellestad. “We now believe we will need additional checkpoint equipment and have requested they study the need for adding a fourth checkpoint lane prior to our peak summer.”

Ellestad said Frontier will begin its seasonal service from Missoula to Denver on May 2. But this year, the carrier will more than double its service by offering four weekly flights to Denver. The airline will also begin new service from Missoula to Phoenix twice a week.

With Frontier making moves, United Airlines will also upgrade its summer service from Missoula to Denver with four daily flights on a mainline aircraft.

“United will also be operating flights to Chicago and San Francisco for the summer, as they have done in years past,” Ellestad said. “Both Sun Country and Frontier sent teams our way over the last couple of weeks as they prepare for summer start up.”

Sun Country in October announced its plans to enter the Missoula market with nonstop service to Minneapolis. It's the first new carrier in the local market since American Airlines launched service to Dallas/Fort Worth in 2019.

With the new flights, new carrier and larger aircraft, Missoula will offer 11% more seats in April, 40% more in May and 31% more in June.

“In July, we'll have over 88,000 departure seats available,” said Ellestad. “Last year, we had 69,000. We should be seeing some fare reductions.”

The airport is currently working on the second and third phase of its terminal expansion. On Wednesday evening, it will host an open house to discuss the work and long-term plans, along with future needs. The event takes place from 5:30 to 7:30.