The inaugural American Airlines flight between Dallas Fort Worth and Billings landed Friday, and community business and civic leaders were on hand to celebrate and welcome travelers to Montana.
The flight is the result of several years’ work by the Billings Chamber, Billings Logan International Airport, Big Sky Economic Development and Visit Billings courting American to consider Billings as a lucrative destination to offer their passengers.
“With the flight now operational, it’s imperative we work to fill the seats so the flight is successful,” explains Chamber President and CEO John Brewer. “At the same time, we must demonstrate to American Airlines just how eager Billings is to add them as a long-term carrier in our market.”
Receiving the added direct Dallas-Billings flight was the result of a great deal of effort and commitment from organizations and individuals across the community. As a new business entering the Billings market, American Airlines required a revenue guarantee to mitigate some of the risk. Over 23 organizations and private entities stepped up financially. This means that if in their inaugural year incurring startup costs American does not hit projected revenue benchmarks, local businesses will assist in backfilling their loss. The Billings Tourism Business Improvement District, Billings Clinic, the Chamber, Big Sky Economic Development, First Interstate Bank, Stockman Bank and many others took the lead on this investment.
Brewer continued his explanation, “Air service that provides direct access to major metro areas and airline hubs encourages young professionals to call Billings home; it opens doors for business location scouts to consider expansion and relocation into our community; and helps to fill hotel rooms thereby contributing to our tourism economy.”
Director of Aviation and Transit, Kevin Ploehn, explains the significance of this particular flight for Billings, “American is the world’s largest air carrier and DFW is the fourth busiest airport in the country. That’s a win-win combination connecting the Billings region to over 40 new cities with just one stop through Dallas.” He also noted that prior to this service Billings did not offer travelers such easy access to the southeast United States.
The celebratory event that took place Friday at the Billings Logan International Airport was the kick-off for a comprehensive marketing and public relations effort spearheaded by the Chamber and Visit Billings and supported by Big Sky Economic Development, Visit Southeast Montana and the Montana Department of Commerce.
“Every year, millions of travelers from around the world come to experience Montana,” said Department of Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote. “Thanks to our partnerships with communities around the state, we’re continually expanding air infrastructure to serve this growing demand and to ensure that no matter where our visitors are coming from, Montana will be easier to access than ever before.”