Letter to the editor:

I was reading the “Big Merger” (Explore Big Sky, Aug. 23), and one of the questions in the box was, “Will there be big pressure on the airlines now to provide more direct and more affordable flights to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport?”

In short, the answer is no. There is no way to pressure the airlines, as they are market driven. However, a larger and more robust Big Sky area provides stability throughout our seasons which may result in additional service to airline network hubs, and it is this “connectivity” that will allow our community to grow.

In regard to fares, we compare favorably with most other ski markets. The average per-mile prices for the latest 12-month period ending March 31 for various Montana and Ski markets are provided below (data from Mead and Hunt shown in cents):

Bozeman $.168

Billings $.171

Missoula $.173

Denver $.154

Salt Lake City $.177

Vail (Eagle) $.230

Aspen $.291

Sun Valley $.220

Jackson Hole $.200

Fares also depend on variables affecting individual purchases: day of week, peak seasons, individual flexibility, destination, distance and demand. While our average price-per-mile compares well, the individual price can be vastly different depending upon the purchase circumstances.

However, in terms of garnering additional air service, lower fares mean lower profits and lower profits discourage new service. We are in competition with every market in the nation for aircraft, and airlines generally place aircraft in their most profitable markets.

Stability and growth in the Big Sky area will contribute greatly to making our market more attractive financially to the airlines and this could create opportunities for additional service but it will be market driven.

– Brian Sprenger

Airport Director, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport