Site visit: Bellingham International Airport (BLI)

Bellingham International Airport (BLI) is a tiny little airport just south of Vancouver, B.C. and about 90 miles north of Seattle.

Bellingham International Airport

In 2004, about 70,000 passengers boarded planes at this airport.

But then Alaska/Horizon Airlines and Allegiant Air began expanding their flight schedules here.

Now service is offered to cool places such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and, soon, Honolulu – at prices that are competitive with big city airports in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.

So now this three-gate airport is serving closer to 400,000 passengers a year.

And it’s bursting at the seams.

Good thing there’s a major expansion project in the works.

Bellingham Airport historic photo

In September, the airport closed down entirely while the runway was upgraded.

By March, Phase I of a major terminal expansion will be completed.

And that will bring the total number of gates to 5.

Art Choat, the airport’s director of aviation, says the airport has no choice but to grow.

But he promises the changes won’t alter the sense of community at this airport, where there’s a collection box for the local food bank at the security checkpoint and a rack of used books for sale at the concession stand.

used books at Bellingham Airport

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