(HELENA) A Federal grant could be the key to increasing airline services in Helena.
The Airport Authority is pursuing a $550,000 Department of Transportation grant that is designed to increase air service for new or expanded routes.
The goal is to secure daily service to Seattle on Alaska Airlines with a morning out-bound flight to the Emerald City and an evening in-bound flight to Helena 7 days a week.
Officials said the grant, which guaranties three years revenue to the air carrier has strong support from the community.
It only took two weeks for the Airport Authority to raise a $50,000.00 match for the grant. 34 entities made donations from $100.00 to $10,000.00 to raise the funds.
Airport manager Jeff Wadekamper said the grant also has support from the airline itself.
“That is a huge deal,” said Wadekamper. “I mean a lot of times airports will apply for grants and try and lure airlines into doing the service but they have not gotten the airline there, partnered with you whether or not at the table yet. But the fact that they are willing to go towards this grant with us is a huge win and I think that makes it a little bit more, our chances are a lot more better for winning this grant.”
Wadekamper likes the airports chances, with Alaska Airlines’ recent purchase of Virgin Airlines and their purchase of new, 176 seat jet-liners. He also said the air carrier is working to increase its’ competition with Delta Airlines.
Wadekamper said the Airport Authority should know if they won the grant sometime in late June of 2016.
Currently Alaska Air flies out of Helena once a day.
Three more flights a week will be added next month.
Original article can be found here: http://www.ktvh.com