Havre Daily News
Travelers may one day have to pass through security before boarding flights at the Havre City-County Airport. Plans for the airport, which is being remodeled, include an area for federal Transportation Security Administration screeners.
Havre is one of seven Montana airports writing security plans for consideration by TSA, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Peppin said Friday. Writing a security plan is the first step to having screeners at an airport, she said.
The other cities are Miles City, Glendive, Wolf Point, Sidney, Lewistown and Glasgow, Peppin said. TSA does not have a timeline for when it will decide on Havre's application. The seven cities will be considered separately, and some plans may be approved and others denied, Peppin added.
A factor in TSA's decision to come into an airport is the number of passengers it serves. If Havre is picked, TSA will provide federally employed screeners and pay the bulk of screening costs, Peppin said.
Peppin said the number of screeners varies by location.
"By having TSA here, it enables people to make tighter connecting flights in Billings," Jamie Lambrecht, manager of Big Sky's Havre office, said Friday.
Lambrecht wouldn't say how many passengers fly in and out ofHavre but said the number has tripled in three years.
"Enhanced security is always positive," Kedric Cecil of Havre said while waiting to board a plane to Billings on Friday afternoon.
Dale Watson was waiting to fly to Billings and then on to Gillette, Wyo., on his way home to Sheridan. He said that passing through security in Havre would speed his connection time in Billings, where Havre passengers now pass through security before continuing on to other flights.
Hill County Commission chair Kathy Bessette, who is a member of the airport board, said the board included room for screeners when it began planning a roughly $640,000 remodeling project for the airport. Work included asbestos and mold abatement, which was completed last month, and a new roof and new walls, under construction this month.
The airport remodeling project is scheduled to be completed by January, Bessette said.
The board decided to do a complete overhaul of the building because it had numerous problems, including a leaky roof that caused water damage and mold. The leak was patched frequently but could not be fixed.
The terminal's flat roof will be replaced with a pitched roof that will provide better weather protection. The pitched roof will have an overhang to shield passengers from weather while they wait to board a plane.
Until the remodeling is complete, Big Sky Airlines is using a trailer to house its Havre office and a waiting room for passengers.
Originally, the board considered making room for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to do screenings for international flights as well. That plan was dropped when the board learned that Customs requires airports to pay some of the costs, Bessette said.
The airport is being built with about $600,000 in federal aviation funds, some of which are being borrowed from other Montana airports that did not need the funds this year.
In the spring, when the Montana Aeronautics Board approved the plans to give Havre City-County Airport a facelift, it gave the airport $10,000 toward the required local match.