Missoula airport delays opening of new terminal until June
Just days away from the planned opening its new passenger terminal, Missoula Montana Airport officials have pushed operations back for another month, saying more time is needed to button up final issues.
The airport had set May 4 as the day it planned to begin operating from the new $68 million facility. But last week it announced that operations would instead begin on June 8.
The airport said general construction has been completed, but added time is needed to train tenants and staff on the state-of-the-art equipment that was installed in the facility.
“This training and testing of new equipment will allow us to provide a completely seamless transition for our passengers as we move into the new terminal in June,” the airport said in a statement.
The airport has planned for the new terminal for years and began construction back in 2019. But the pandemic created a number of unexpected hurdles, including contracting, financing and a drop in passengers.
Still, federal funding tied to the pandemic helped the airport navigate the challenges and air travel has returned to roughly 90% of its pre-pandemic levels. Missoula officials expected 2022 to set a record year, even as airlines struggle with a shortage of pilots and adjust routes as a result.
The airport has already secured financing for the second phase of construction on the east concourse, which is expected to begin once the south concourse becomes operational next month.
“It was especially challenging building this facility during the pandemic,” the airport said. “Missoula's terminal expansion project modernized the facility to serve the region well into the future, providing passengers an elevated travel experience at MSO.”