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Followed by numerous pandemic related delays, Billings Logan International Airport is just a few last steps away from completing phase three of airport renovations and opening the new Concourse A to passengers.
A ribbon cutting event and the first “inaugural flight” took off from the new concourse on Friday afternoon June 3, 2022.
This moment was preceded by years of planning and a groundbreaking in September of 2019.
“There’s a lot to go and we’re looking at the end of 2023 before this thing is all wrapped up. It’s been a very exciting project,” said City of Billings Director of Aviation and Transit Kevin Ploehn.
During Friday afternoon’s ribbon cutting event, Ploehn reflected on the early years of the airport and improvements that have been made since then.
“This airport started in 1928. The city council issued $5,000 to buy 400 acres and build the first runway. That was the start of it,” Ploehn said.
He went on to share the first terminal building was built in 1958.
“But there was no concourse or gateways. It was ‘go get your ticket, walk right out, climb up the stairs and get in the plane.’ It worked real good until those planes got real big and had to climb up those stairs and stand in line during the winter,” said Ploehn.
In 1970, Billings saw its first concourses.
“The old A and B, so that people could actually get on a passenger loading bridge and go right into a comfortable airplane without having to be out in the environment,” he said.
The last update to the airport before this current renovation happened in 1992, when the front of the building extended to allow more room for the ticket and baggage claim area.
“Here we are in 2022, 50 years after the old concourses were first opened up, we’re replacing them with this brand new, state of the art, very comfortable area,” Ploehn said.
The new Concourse A features gates named after wildlife native to Montana, including bison, antelope, grizzly and mountain goat.
An early timeline of the project showed the concourse would be complete in April, but due to supply issues, the concourse will open this month, and the restaurant area will likely open near the end of the year.
To finalize the ribbon cutting ceremony, Ploehn invited attendees to grab a wood glider plane and “launch” the first inaugural flight from Concourse A.
Ploehn has been a big part of the airport project and looks forward to the progress that’s made before his retirement near the end of the year.