Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, also known as BZN, is a primary commercial service facility (meaning that it has more than 10,000 enplanements per year) in Belgrade, Montana. It is owned by the Gallatin Airport Authority and has been the busiest airport in Montana since 2013. The airport covers 2,481 acres. There are four runways: 12/30, which is 8,994 by 150 feet (asphalt); 3/21, which is 2,650 by 75 feet (asphalt); 11/29, which is 5,050 by 75 feet (asphalt); and 11G/29G, which is 2,802 by 80 feet (turf). There were 76,223 aircraft operations in 2017: 73% general aviation, 15% air carrier, 12% air taxi, and less than 1% military. There were 359 aircraft based at the airport, 260 single-engine, 24 multi-engine, 41 jets, 23 helicopters, and 11 gliders.

Airport history

The original airport in Belgrade was built in 1928. It was named Siefert Airport in honor of Gallatin County aviation pioneer Wayne Siefert. Unfortunately, high-tension wires forced the airport to relocate half a mile north of Belgrade in 1929. Six runways were 100 feet wide and 1,200 to 1,300 feet long. On October 23rd, 1940, the Bozeman Airport Commission was founded (with the knowledge that aviation was growing and a larger airport would be needed). The city had taken a lease of land from the State of Montana at the Belgrade Airport, and a hangar was built on-site for the Civilian Pilot Training Program that the state had offered. The commission was also tasked with interviewing nearby landowners to see if additional lands could be purchased adjoining the airport. On December 19th, 1940, the commission received $47,000 in federal funding for the new airport. The Civil Aeronautics Administration financed the construction of Gallatin Field in 1941 to provide a training center for pilots (as this was just before WWII). The FBO was operated by John F. Lynch and his brother Charles, and there were four runways. On May 7th, 1941, it was decided that the new airport would be called Bozeman Airport at Gallatin Field. Gallatin Field became a city-county airport in 1942, and on November 22nd, the first official landing at the airport was made. In 1944 Gallatin County purchased a one-half interest in the land. Major construction occurred throughout the 1940s, with runways 12/30, 16/34, 3/21, and 7/25 all completed, as well as Taxiways A and B, as well as the apron and lighting on 16/34, 12/30, and the Taxiways. In 1947 a 35 by 75-foot hut was constructed as a temporary “depot” for Northwest Airlines, which had begun regular commercial service in June of that same year. Between the years of 1950 to 1951, an airport administration building was constructed at the cost of $153,000. A county bond issue originally funded it (there was a 0.9 mill tax for the construction and maintenance throughout the 1950s. The original terminal at BZN opened in 1952. An airport bond issued in 1960 allowed for new construction at Gallatin Field. They allowed for the reconstruction of runway 12/30 to 150 by 5,410 feet with new medium-intensity lighting (which allowed for use of transport aircraft such as the Douglas DC-6 and the Lockheed Electra), the construction of a new 120 by 640-foot general aviation apron, the reconstruction of the air carrier apron, as well as the expansion and reconstruction of Taxiway A. Taxiways C and D were constructed in 1965. In the late 1960s, Runway 12/30 was extended to 9,000 feet, and Taxiway C was widened and strengthened, while the air carrier apron was once again expanded and overlaid. These improvements (costing $606,000) were paid for by a bond issued by the FAA and a city and county tax. The first Master Plan for Gallatin Field came about in 1972 due to an FAA planning grant. Runway 16/34 was abandoned due to high maintenance costs and lack of use. In November 1972, Gallatin Field became an Airport Authority. It sold bonds in 1974 to finance a new FBO building, relocate the existing FBO building, relocate Federal Aid Secondary 290, and construct a new general aviation apron. Runway 3/21 was relocated east of the general aviation apron to construct a new terminal. More revenue bonds were sold in 1976 (raising $2.4 million) to construct the new terminal (at 40,000 square feet), build a new air carrier apron, widen, strengthen, and extend the taxiways, construct a new terminal access road, and extend water a sewer utilities to the terminal buildings. The Airport Authority allowed for the construction of a sewage treatment facility by providing land to the town of Belgrade and shared the cost of a 500,000-gallon water tank with the town. The project cost $4.4 million. The new terminal building opened in 1977. That same year Northwest operated the first DC-10 into BZN. In 1978, Frontier began its first nonstop flight to Denver. During the 1980s, as part of the Airport Improvement Program, the FAA provided up to 90% of funds, which allowed for improvement projects for runways, taxiways, aprons, and access roads. Additionally, a 36-by-56-foot fire station and a snow removal equipment building were built. The equipment itself was also acquired, as well as more land, while security fencing was installed, and the taxiway lighting system was upgraded. In 1983 the terminal expanded to add a second upper-level gate, while in 1985, enplanements surpassed 75,000 for the first time (and eclipsed 100,000 the following year). In 1986 Frontier Airlines declared bankruptcy and ended service, although Continental began service to Denver that same year. In 1987 Western Airlines, which had been serving the airport since 1982, merged into Delta Airlines, which meant that Delta was now flying from BZN to Salt Lake City. The 90s saw population expansion in the Gallatin Valley, which brought about more growth to the airport. Phases I and II of the Terminal Expansion were completed, the rental car parking lot was expanded, a holding bay was constructed on Taxiway A, the employee and paid parking lot was expanded, and deicing fluid storage on the commercial apron was constructed. The air traffic control tower was built in 1997. Everything was paid for by the aforementioned Airport Improvement Program, the Passenger Facility Charge, and local funding. Enplanements kept growing, and BZN was ranked the 168th busiest airport for passengers in the U.S. The airport experienced rapid growth from 2000 to 2007, with over $32.5 million in expansion. This included two expansions to the commercial apron, a new general aviation tie-down apron, a concourse expansion to the terminal building, the construction of the East Ramp, and a cargo apron. The airport administration building was expanded and remodeled. Furthermore, general aviation hangar construction resulted in projects including sewer, water, and utility. This decade also saw a shift in aircraft, including the Airbus A319, A320, and 50 to 70-seat regional jets. The airport was then served by Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, Horizon, Northwest, and United. FBO is provided by Arlin’s Aircraft and Yellowstone Jet Center. In 2011 a terminal expansion opened, with three gates and more retail concessions. In late 2011 Gallatin Field was renamed Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. In 2020 and 2021, service increased drastically, with 31 nonstop destinations added. These included routed from Alaska Airlines, Southwest, and startup Avelo Airlines, as well as several new markets, including Nashville and Washington, D.C. (Dulles).

Airport location

The airport is located eight miles northwest of Bozeman. 

Airport facts

  • The airport is home to the Arrow Club, which provides private, instrument, and commercial instruction for student pilots. Pilots can also rent planes through the club. 
  • The airport is home to several flight schools, including Central Copters, Northern Wings Aviation, Ridgeline Aviation, and others. 
  • The airport houses a pilot shelter, exclusively for those flying public. Some permitted uses include overnight camping, meetings, and maintanance and cleanup.

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