Rural Eastern Montana flights to Billings will be provided by Massachusetts-based Cape Air beginning Dec. 10.

Cape Air, an employee-owned commuter airline, will fly roundtrip between Billings, Sidney, Glendive, Glasgow, Wolf Point and Havre. Sidney will receive five roundtrip flights a day. The other communities will each receive two roundtrips.

All seats are priced at $49 including taxes and fees. The federal government will pay all other costs under the Essential Air Service, which subsidizes flights to rural communities lacking commercial carriers.

Representatives from Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Sidney and Wolf Point agreed unanimously in August that Cape Air, of Hyannis, Mass., would be the preferred provider of subsidized Essential Air Service. Cape Air has proposed dedicating 9-seat Cessna 402 planes to serve each community.

Montana communities using Essential Air Service have endured a bumpy ride over the years. Some flights abruptly halted in 2008 when Big Sky Airlines folded. The routes were taken over by Great Lakes Aviation, but Great Lakes routed passengers to Denver, while most preferred Billings. Great Lakes flights were sometimes delayed or cancelled.

Silver Airways won the contract for Montana’s EAS routes in 2011, but chose not to bid for them this year. Silver will continue to service Montana's EAS communities until December.

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(2) comments

Old Guy

These "$49" flights are subsidized by the taxpayers to the tune of approximately $1,000 as part the "Essential Air Services" program. Somebody should be asking Steve Daines if he thinks that's ok when the federal government is running a $3 trillion deficit.


So the Missoula to Billings flights are still going to cost about $1,200 for a one way ticket! How about the Missoula Airport Board working with Cape Air to fly Missoula to Billings for $49 bucks. Even one flight a day would be helpful.

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