Despite lengthy talks to bring Frontier Airlines to Missoula as a low-cost air carrier, the airline has said it will not bring service to town in 2014, James Grunke said during Missoula Economic Partnership’s annual investor update meeting Thursday.

Due to business model changes from the airline’s acquisition by Indigo Partners LLC, the company will actually reduce service across the state, said Grunke, MEP’s CEO and president. Frontier currently flies to Bozeman and Great Falls.

“But that doesn’t mean we don’t continue looking for other opportunities or other low-cost carriers,” Grunke said.

Because businesses look at transportation opportunities when considering locations, the economic partnership’s Air Service Task Force has been working with Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines, and has been trying to bring Frontier to Missoula to increase competition and ideally lower transportation costs.

MEP continues to talk with Frontier, as something could change in the future, Grunke said.

Additionally, MEP continues to work with Delta, which is offering direct flights to Los Angeles over the holidays and is optimistic about possibly offering daily seasonal service to Los Angeles beginning in the spring, he said.

For in-state service, a local company is putting in an application through the Big Sky Trust Fund to conduct a feasibility study for flights between Missoula and Billings, Grunke added. “So that continues to move forward and I think that’s a good thing.”

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Reporter Alice Miller can be reached at 523-5251 or at alice.miller@missoulian.com.

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