Starting next summer, Missoula will finally have regular flights that get directly to Texas. Missoula International Airport Deputy Director Brian Ellestad says it’s an offering that’s been three years in the making.

“Today, American Airlines announced service from both Dallas and Chicago starting June 7, next year. The tickets are available to buy currently on AA.com and the first flights to both cities will be daily service starting June 7th, Dallas will be year round and Chicago will go through August 20th of next year.”

Ellestad says the airport had been trying to lock in service to Texas with either United or American Airlines, and that the final deal was possible because of a federal grant.

“It’s called a Small Community Air Service Grant and it’s designed for communities like ours to try and get competing air service into a market,” Ellestad said. “Once you get competition it usually lowers air fare in your market.  We got the grant from the federal government: $600,000 for a revenue guarantee and that’s what put American over the top to get them here.”

These are the first routes for American Airlines out of Missoula ever. Ellestad says the airport is flexible for adding more routes in the future.