Announcements

AIRPORT RUNWAY PAVING PROJECT – SUMMER 2021

The Airport’s primary runway will be getting a rehab this summer to ensure the paving is in a good and safe condition for another 20 years of service. The first phase will include a reconstruction of the eastern 2,700 feet of the runway. During this time, the airlines will still be able to use the runway, it will just be shortened up. At 9,000 feet in length the runway has adequate length to operate in a shortened status. However, during the application of the final pavement surface the entire length, the runway will be closed June 6-13, 2021. For those 8 days only, the runway will not be useable and there will be no airline flights in or out of Helena June 6-13 only. The runway will re-open on June 14 and airline flights will resume.

This is one of the most important and complex projects the airport has done in many years. The bid cost is $18,838,844.96 Million. 90% of the cost is covered by the Airport Improvement Program which is funded by a Federally imposed surcharge on airline tickets, aviation fuel sales, and air cargo transactions. The remaining 10% is paid for by the Airport Authority and generated from other airport revenues. No City, County, or State taxes are used to fund the local match, as the Helena Regional Airport Authority operates as a self sufficient business and receives no local taxes to fund the operation of the airport.

A similar runway rehab project was completed in 2000. During the 2000 project, the airport runway was closed for 60 days, as opposed to only 8 days this time. The difference in 2000 was the fact the entire runway received a full depth reconstruction, and the airlines used a parallel taxiway as a temporary runway and also used smaller aircraft for passenger flights. Those smaller aircraft are no longer operated by any of the airlines so the option to use the taxiway with today’s jets is not possible. As a result an aggressive phasing plan with multiple milling and paving crew working rotating shifts has been developed to minimize the impacts as much as possible. Thank you for your patience during this 8 day shutdown June 6-13, 2021. If you have questions please contact the Airport at (406)-442-2821 or email Jeff Wadekamper, Airport Director at jwadekamper@helenaairport.com .

VISIT THE PROJECTS AND EVENTS PAGE FOR MORE PROJECT DETAILS AT THIS LINK: https://helenaairport.com/current-projects/

 

AMERICAN AIRLINES – PHOENIX, ARIZONA NEW ROUTE RECRUITMENT (UPDATED MARCH 1)

American Airlines has put support behind starting a brand new route serving Helena to Phoenix, Arizona. The new route is contingent upon the Airport receiving a Small Community Air Service Development (SCASD) Grant. UPDATE (March 1, 2021): The Airport submitted its grant application prior to the March 1, 2021 Grant Application Deadline. U.S. DOT confirmed receipt of the grant. We are now waiting for DOT to award those grants which may not occur until mid-summer. Once grants are awarded, if Helena receives a grant, it will then be dependent on American Airlines to decide when to begin the service if they still have interest. Once the service start date has been announced, those who made pledges for financial support will be invoiced and those funds will be placed into an account and made available to American to cover any startup costs and losses during the first 3 years of the service. Some of the funds will be used for marketing and promotion of the new route. Montana Business Assistance Connection (MBAC) has graciously agreed to facilitate these funds in a separate account as the Airport Authority legally cannot manage funds for airline incentives. Stay tuned as this effort develops. Updates will be posted as they come available. In the meantime, pledges for financial support are still being accepted and can be submitted by using the form below:

To download a pledge form to take part in the community fundraising effort, click HERE.

 

AIR SERVICE EXPANSION EFFORTS – WHAT IT TAKES TO LAND MORE AIRLINE SERVICE

Airport Officials along with a number of Helena community have visited with 10 different airlines to explore possible air service additions to serve Helena. Air service development if an ongoing process and the airport communicates with airlines on a regular basis to maintain contact and update airlines on possible opportunities at the Helena Airport.

In order for a small community to gain additional service in today’s airline industry, some basic elements must be considered:

  • Affordable Cost to Operate  – Operating a commercial airport in today’s myriad of regulatory and operational requirements is costly. Helena Regional Airport has diversified its revenue sources to include a number of non-aeronautical revenue sources. This is critical to ensure that the costs the airlines pay to use the airport fits their business model. Like it or not, the airlines are for-profit businesses. The cost per passenger at the Helena Airport is under the national industry average and one of the lowest of the commercial airports in Montana.
  • Sustainable Market – Helena’s central location is well suited to serving a large amount of the state, however, Helena is surrounded by larger communities that provide larger markets, so the competition among airports is a factor you cannot ignore. While it is an asset to be the State capital, there are 4 other state capitals with airports that have NO air service.
  •  Revenue Guarantees and Incentives – Airlines are placing the burden to mitigate the risk of entering new markets on the airport and their communities. Many communities around the country including many in Montana have been required to provide revenue guarantees over $1 Million to ensure new service is financially successful during the startup phase. One crucial fact about providing revenue guarantees is that the Airport itself legally cannot provide these funds due to federal regulations. These funds must be provided by other entities such as the community businesses and other users, so many communities have conducted fundraising campaigns to secure these financial incentive packages. Helena has done this in the past and plans to do so again once an airline commits to interest in a new route.
  • Capacity and Efficiency –  Airlines cannot operate unless the airport facility is suited to meet their needs. This includes terminal facilities, jet bridges for boarding, and airfield infrastructure such as runways, taxiways, air traffic control, navigational aids, fire protection, snow removal, etc… Helena is fortunate to have spent considerable time and money to ensure that the facility can meet their requirements. The current terminal expansion project will ensure that  adequate capacity exists to continue growing Helena’s air service opportunities. In the last 6 years prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, passenger traffic at the Helena Regional Airport grew 23%.

ARTICLES AND VIDEOS ON AIR SERVICE DEVELOPMENT

Boyd Group International’s Views on Regionalization of Air Service: https://rumble.com/vehp6p-bringing-air-access-to-small-communities.html

 

IT’S TIME TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO GET THE MONTANA REAL ID

October 1, 2021 will be here before you know it! Montana driver licenses do not meet the federal “REAL ID” standards.  However, domestic travelers will not be required to meet those standards until October 1, 2021. Domestic travelers must have a new Montana REAL ID driver’s license or a passport for all air travel after the October 1, 2021 deadline. Don’t wait until the last minute, set up your account and online appointment at the DMV website, today. For updated information on the REAL ID, visit TSA’s website or https://mtrealid.gov/faqs/

Make sure you have all the proper documentation before your appointment, here.