Daily Inter Lake: Glacier Park International Airport receives $7 million for expansion

by Adrian Knowler

Glacier Park International Airport has received a $7.3 million federal grant to put toward its ongoing expansion and modernization project.

The dollars will go towards the project’s second phase, including expanding and renovating the baggage claim area, the rental car lot and the upstairs gates on the south side of the airport, according to airport Director Rob Ratkowski.

Ratkowski said he was thankful for the funds, though the amount awarded falls short of the roughly $27 million requested through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021.

Airport officials decided to shuffle several projects around to prioritize the terminal expansion. The airport will delay purchasing new snow removal equipment and the construction of an associated garage space until more funding becomes available, according to Ratkowski.

Ratkowski said receiving the full dollar amount sought at this time was always unlikely, but noted that funding through the bill will be available for grant bids that will be open in each of the next three years. The airport will continue to apply for funds, he said.

Ratkowski thanked both of Montana’s senators for advocating for the appropriation. He said that Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines wrote letters in support of the project.

Tester called the award a victory for Montana.

“Expanding transportation infrastructure is critical for supporting Montana’s rural communities — especially in places like Glacier, where folks rely on tourism and the recreational economy to make a good living,” said Tester in a statement. “Expanding Glacier Airport will have a real positive impact on small businesses in the Flathead and across Northwest Montana, and I’m proud to have secured federal dollars to get this done.”

The first phase of the expansion project, which is still underway, includes the renovation and expansion of the ticketing area, the remainder of the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, and the remaining sections of the new grand hall. The first phase is expected to be completed in 2025.

Ratkowski is glad that the multi-year project continues to receive funding.

“We’re looking forward to charging ahead with Phase 2,” he said.