The Missoula International Airport had a good year in 2017, despite expectations that ridership would remain flat through the year.

“We’re up two percent, year-over-year so that is really good news because we were basically flat on the number of seats, so we increased our load factor… more butts in seats, which means the airlines are going to add a lot more service next year and going forward,” said Missoula International Airport Deputy Director Brian Ellestad.

With new service to Illinois and Texas in 2018, Ellestad says more riders are expected this year too.

“We are probably at double digit growth going into 2018, we’ll be pretty flat till July when we really take off, so for the full year it’s double digit growth,” Ellestad said. “Since 2000, we’ve grown 68 percent, in more passengers, it shows a great story for our region.”

With double-digit growth in the number of seats, Ellestad says they expect ridership to increase by between five and eight percent as well this year.