Great Falls airport receives grant for new Dallas-Fort Worth flights

The Great Falls International Airport has been awarded a 2022 Small Community Air Service Development Grant for new air service to Dallas-Fort Worth.

The grant doesn’t guarantee the new air service but it does help Great Falls establish a minimum annual revenue guarantee for a new flight.

John Faulkner, airport director, said they were notified that they had received a grant, but not been told for what amount.

Faulkner said they applied for $750,000.

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“In today’s environment, an airline guarantee is absolutely essential to establish new routes in small communities. Federal law prohibits airports from providing funds for airline guarantees, so guarantees must be funded by local communities,” according to an airport release.

The Great Falls Airport Authority and Great Falls Montana Tourism have agreed to fund a $132,000 marketing campaign for the first two summers of service with the grant.

According to the airport, the grant will more than double the funds contributed by local businesses and individuals.

Faulkner said the community entities contributed $500,000 to guarantee the grant.

Service reductions from the national pilot shortage and COVID has resulted in “a severe seat shortage for many small airports across the U.S.,” including Great Falls, according to the airport.

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Full flights have caused a rise in ticket prices at the Great Falls airport and others over the last two years, according to the airport.

“The primary means of combating seat shortages and the resulting higher prices is to attract new service to the Great Falls market which is precisely the aim of the cow-cost airfare initiative,” according to the airport.

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Since the airport has been notified they have received the grant, officials will start conversations for the new Dallas-Fort Worth services with airlines “with the hope of negotiating an agreement for new service in the nest 18 months,” according to the airport.

” If successful, DFW would be the first new service at GTF since Chicago was added as a result of our last successful SCASDP grant award in 2015,” according to the airport.

The Dallas-Fort Worth flights would likely operate several times per week during the peak summer period, according to the airport.

“Air service expansions have been rare at GTF over the past 20-years due to the lack of demand growth as a result of
nearly absent population growth in Cascade County during that period,” according to the airport. “Due to the lack of local growth, an important success factor for a new DFW flight will be our community’s ability to attract visitors to our region from Dallas and other southwestern regional markets that connect in DFW.”