By Tyler Allen EBS Senior Editor

BELGRADE – American Airlines will begin servicing Bozeman with nonstop Dallas flights in southwest Montana’s busiest tourist seasons.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport Director Brian Sprenger announced in a Jan. 14 press conference the seasonal service to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – from June 2 to Oct. 5, and Dec. 15 to April 3 – that will allow southwest Montana residents connections to more than 200 destinations in 26 countries.

It will also open up the region’s tourist opportunities – including Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky Resort – to a new population of travelers. American was the last of the major U.S. airlines without service to Bozeman.

“This is exciting news for the Bozeman community and the thousands of Montanans who rely on Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport for reliable air travel,” said U.S. Sen. Steve Daines in a press release. “It will further open Bozeman’s door to economic opportunities and job creation, unlocking markets for Montana small businesses.”

Big Sky Resort partnered with the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce, the Yellowstone Club, and Lone Mountain Land Company to make a strong push for this expanded service in the last two and half years, according to Brandon Bang, Big Sky Resort’s senior sales director.

“The new daily seats, a new direct flight city and new American Airlines customers are each individually big steps in economic development,” Bang said. “All three together are a huge win for the economy, tourism and accessibility.”

The partnership obtained a small community air service grant that will pay for half of a minimum revenue guarantee to American, with the partners providing the difference. This means American won’t lose any revenue until the airline turns a profit on the service.

Nonprofit marketing organization Yellowstone Country, Montana, along with Visit Big Sky, has also agreed to help Big Sky Resort market the new flight.

Bang says in addition to bringing new skiers to the resort – who may have chosen Colorado or other destinations they could fly to directly in the past – American Airlines’ Dallas flight will be a boon for the resort’s summer visitation.

“I think this will be a huge win for the area,” Bang said.