High hopes for air travel in 2021?

People check their bags at the American Airlines desk at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Despite the increase in air travel over the holidays the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) still reported a 43.5% decline in passenger numbers in 2020 compared to the record 2019 year.

On a national basis, the Transportation Security Administration reported a 60.7% decline in passenger throughput across 440 U.S. airports.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport Director Brian Sprenger said new flight destinations along with their new B concourse has them optimistic about future growth.

“The concourse opened up an additional four gates and our new concessions inside there and we had a number of new routes that started including Boston, J.F.K., Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Nashville so while we’re not carrying as many passengers there’s a lot more choice for the passengers that are flying,” Sprenger said.

The resurgence in COVID cases around the holidays also put numbers on hold leading up to the new year.

“What we’ve seen since about November is kind of a plateau of the recovery… but as the vaccine takes hold we expect that to start kind of tipping the scale in favor of more travel and obviously as people feel more comfortable with the overall situation they’ll take back to the skies,” Sprenger predicted.

As for international travel Sprenger said that might see the slowest resurgence out of all air travel numbers.

Even with the stagnant numbers, BZN is still looking to add more services to other destinations around the country.

“New service is always on the table, we’re in a unique situation where there’s a lot of interest in Montana and that gives us some opportunities for service that we may not have expected even despite the pandemic,” Sprenger said.

More information on the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport can be found here.

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