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Montana executives to ask for non-stop flight to San Francisco

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Nov 10 2013 08:11:54 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The Montana Department of Commerce wants to know what Missoula businesses think about a new direct flight out of the Garden City.

Right now booking a non-stop flight from Missoula to San Francisco isn't an option and people who try get this message, "there are no non-stop flights available for this destination.”

That's why Montana Department of Commerce executives want to know if a year-round non-stop flight to the California hub would benefit western Montanans.

Lee Kirkegaard is the choir director at Hellgate High School and he told NBC Montana last spring he was going to travel with 30 students to perform in San Francisco but the lack of direct flights made planning the trip impossible.  

“We had to debunk the plans and cancel the trip because they really didn't have availability of a non-stop flight,” says Kirkegaard.  “It would be really to our advantage I think if we were able to have more non-stop flights from here.”

Kirkegaard says with students in school, spending extra time driving to Spokane or Seattle for the flight just wasn't an option.

“We fell outside of the parameters of what we wanted to do with them during the time we were going to be gone,” Kirkegaard tells us.  “It just made it impossible to make the trip.”  

Florence resident Montana Getz says she enjoys flying but multiple stops can be a pain.

“I have friends from California who live there now and I have friends from California who live here now,” she says.  “It's always a pain in the butt to get back and visit your relatives so I’d be happy just to do non-stop that would be awesome.”

We called United Airlines and found out non-stop flights from Missoula to San Francisco are only available in July and August and if you fly there any other time of the year, you have at least one other stop and sometimes two.

This time of year a trip to San Francisco from Missoula can cost around $600.  We checked Bozeman and it's nearly the same story there; direct flights aren’t always available and you'll pay about the same.

Kirkegaard says it's not just a flying out that's the problem, he says it's hard to bring performers in.

“It's just not as attractive to say 'okay you can land in Spokane and take a three-hour bus ride to come to Missoula, perform and then take a three-hour long ride back to Spokane to fly to San Francisco,’” he says.  

The Montana Department of Commerce is looking for public feedback on the proposal to expand non-stop flights to San Francisco and they need input by Wednesday the 13th.  

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