May 24—One hundred and twelve people and four small dogs got off a Boeing 737 at Glacier Park International Airport on Monday evening, the inaugural passengers on a bi-weekly direct flight between the Flathead Valley and Burbank, California operated by budget carrier Avelo Airlines.
The flight is scheduled to arrive in Montana around 7:30 p.m. and depart at 8 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays throughout the summer.
The plane was welcomed with a celebratory water arch, pumped by two awaiting airport fire trucks on the tarmac as the Boeing 737 taxied up to the jetway.
The Los Angeles area is the top market for travelers to and from Flathead County, according to airport Director Rob Ratkowski. Currently, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Airlines and
United Airlines offer seasonal flights to Los Angeles International Airport.
Ratkowski welcomed the new budget flight to nearby Burbank, saying he hopes the increasing options for travelers will lead to lower ticket prices.
"More flight options will encourage competitive fares to the L.A. basin, and we look forward to the opportunities this new partnership will provide for residents and those wanting to travel to our beautiful area," Ratkowski said in a statement.
Tickets for the flights start at $69 one-way, with $40 charges for checked baggage and $35 per carry-on. The Boeing 737 is set up to accommodate 147 passengers.
Avelo executive Greg Baden was on hand to welcome passengers, and has a particular interest in the new route. He owns a home on Flathead Lake.
Baden said that the airline has worked on making this flight a reality for about six months, and that they view it as a natural connection between 'dual-destinations' that each have recreational and leisure appeal for visitors.
The flight is currently scheduled to run through Sept. 6, but demand has been strong and the airline will consider extending the route to year-round service if it seems sustainable, according to Avelo spokesperson Courtney Goff.
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