Here's a look at some business news in western Montana:
The Missoula International Airport says its airfares are the lowest in the state. Recently published first quarter airfare data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows an average fare of $386.89, which is down from the first quarter of 2018 and prior to American Airlines’ start of service where Missoula had an average fare of $452.58. During the first quarter of 2019, over 87,000 passengers departed from Missoula, according to a press release from the airport. This 15% reduction in airfare resulted in a direct savings to passengers of over $5.7 million, airport director Cris Jensen said in an email.
"This is the third full quarter with American Airlines serving our market, and we have seen a dramatic decline in prices," Jensen noted in an email. "We want to thank Missoula Economic Partnership, Missoula TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) and Destination Missoula for partnering with us to bring American Airlines to our market.
He noted 2019 is off to a fast start. Through the first six months of this year, the airport is up over 14% in passenger trips. Alaska Airlines has added a fifth Seattle round trip for the first half of September and a second Portland flight over both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
“Calendar year 2019 will be another record year for the airport,” Jensen said in the email.
Missoula International Airport is self-supported, he added, meaning no local tax revenues are used for the administration, promotion, operation or maintenance of the airport. Currently six airlines have operations at Missoula International Airport: Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier and United. Nonstop flights are offered to 13 destinations.
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A coalition of dozens of local business and organizations donated to guarantee revenues to American Airlines in order to entice them to the Missoula market, which the Missoula Economic Partnership, Destination Missoula and the Tourism Business Improvement District say resulted in more competition and lower fares.
Edgewater Partners, along with Averill Hospitality and AH Management Company, recently completed major renovations at The DoubleTree by Hilton Missoula — Edgewater Hotel at 100 Madison St. The project, which included all 171 guestrooms and carried a $10 million dollar price tag, is an extension of the already updated Finn (formerly called Finn & Porter) restaurant and meeting space, improved in early 2018.
Renovations took place in multiple phases and were completed this spring. Future plans include expansion of the property, a new event space, and enhancing the guest experience with resort-style amenities and services.
"This is an exciting time for our entire team,” said Daniel Monahan, general manager of The Edgewater. “We look forward to sharing our improvements with our guests and the community as we start the next chapter in our hotel’s history."
The Edgewater was built 48 years ago. The property was purchased in late 2016 by Edgewater Partners, with operations overseen by AH Management Company.