Butte-Silver Bow County employees should have to fly out of the Butte airport when conducting county business, a commissioner is proposing.
“A lot of good things are happening at Bert Mooney,” said Mark Moodry, who introduced the resolution and sits on the Airport Authority Board. “As a local government and as a community, we need to do everything we can to continue that.”
Last fiscal year, the county spent almost $40,000 on 47 different airline tickets; this fiscal year, which starts in October, the county has spent about $5,000 on eight different tickets. So far, all the tickets this year have used Butte’s Bert Mooney Airport, according to county budget director Danette Gleason.
The proposal contains a loophole: the chief executive could grant special approval for travel that would bypass Bert Mooney.
“We’re not going to pay $3,000 for a plane ticket when we can fly out of Bozeman for $300,” Moodry said. “There’s a backstop there.”
But for prices that are competitive, the county should officially designate Bert Mooney as its go-to airport, he said.
Airport Manager Pat Shea supports the proposal, saying it would reinforce the county’s commitment to local business.
“(The airport) is a vital organ to economic development,” he said.
Moodry emphasized that boardings are up at the airport, and said pricing is competitive.
“It’s cheaper, generally, to fly out of Bert Mooney than it is to fly out of Bozeman or Missoula,” he said.
Variables like airlines, locations, departure and arrival times and dates, layovers, and advance booking make prices difficult to compare. Depending on how those variables were manipulated, flights from Bert Mooney could be less or more expensive than flights from other Montana airports for a variety of destinations, according to the Google flights search engine.