Allegiant Airlines has announced that it will now offer nonstop flights from Missoula to Los Angeles year-round, rather than just in the summertime.
The flights currently operate Thursday and Sunday, but starting in August they will depart Missoula on Monday and Friday. The flights will leave Missoula International Airport at 6:22 p.m. and arrive at LAX at 8:04 p.m.
The flights will leave Los Angeles on Fridays and Mondays at 2:12 p.m. and arrive in Missoula at 5:42 p.m.
Allegiant also flies from Missoula to Mesa, Arizona, and Las Vegas year-round. For the past three seasons, the flights to L.A. have been summer seasonal only. The airline's service to Oakland will remain as a summer seasonal offering.
Cris Jensen, the airport's director, said that the route between Missoula and L.A. has been popular.
"Obviously our market has performed very well and we were one of the lucky few chosen," he said. "It really goes both directions. In the summer, it's kind of the L.A. traffic this way, but we expect the local Missoula population to want to go that direction in the winter to go get some sunshine or go to Disneyland."
Meanwhile, Delta Airlines will no longer be offering its early-morning nonstop connection from Missoula to Seattle past Sept. 4.
"It was a new market for (Delta) so we weren't quite sure what their plans were," Jensen said. "It wasn't a shock by any means. It will come back again next summer, and it's already on their schedule for just before and just after Christmas."
Delta began offering the daily 6:15 a.m. flights late last year.
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Alaska Airlines still offers direct flights from Missoula to Seattle.
Frontier Airlines announced this past May that it will be offering nonstop flights to Denver from Missoula until at least October of this year.
Jensen said the airport is on track for another record year.
"We are up about 9.1 percent in total enplanements, which is people boarding from Missoula, which is substantial growth," he said.
The airport had 350,361 people board flights from Missoula in 2015. However, from June of 2015 until May of this year, there has already been 360,033 enplanements.
"So we're up about 10,000 passengers already over last year, and our biggest growth months are yet to come this year," Jensen said. "We are definitely anticipating seeing that growth continue."
Jensen said the Missoula to L.A. trips will be welcome for Montana residents.
"It's an easy trip and Allegiant pricing is always competitive," he said.