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Fuel shortage at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport leaves passengers delayed

Delayed passengers wait at Bozeman airport
Posted at 7:15 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 12:41:01-04

Airplanes have been delayed at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport due to a shortage of fuel.

Airport Director Brian Sprenger notes that the individual airlines are in charge of their own fuel, but access has been in short supply.

“We started seeing very tight supplies in Montana because of the fire fighting that is also going in Montana. Montana is one of those places, if it is affecting one side, it also affects other parts of the state as well,” Sprenger said.

Sunday, like most summers days at the airport, was bustling with passengers and families, like the Phares Family. Following a trip with family, visiting Montana and Wyoming with their children—both under the age of four—Jacob Phares and his family planned on traveling back to Charlotte, North Carolina.

After waiting 45 minutes to get their ticket, a bit more to navigate through security, the family of four spent their time dodging the crowd and shopping for family back in Charlotte. Once boarded, milk bottles were readied for their children.

“With all the kids, and all our stuff packed. We just sat down and I had two bottles of milk, to make sure I had exactly what I needed to get my baby back to Charlotte. Then they came up and said, ‘hey, sorry, you guys are going to have to deplane, the airport ran out of fuel,” Phares said.

Eventually, Phares and his family were able to secure seats to Salt Lake City where the plane could refuel and make the trip to North Carolina.

Essentially, this issue is a domino effect, according to Sprenger. Firefighters need emergency helicopters and planes to navigate and disperse the fire, with folks want to explore Montana, and Covid creating a ‘boom’ in air-travel, all of which require fuel.

Sprenger says the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport has seen a 40% rise in traffic through the month of July, compared to 2019. On a peak day, the planes go through 100,000 gallons of fuel a day, serving nearly 5,000 passengers.

Optimistically, Sprenger hopes that the problem can be solved in a timely manner, but this issue may prevail throughout the summer months.