While Glacier Park International Airport continues to draw record passengers, a new organization devoted to increasing commercial air service in the Flathead Valley is launching its initial fundraising campaign this month.There were 397,827 total passengers at GPIA in 2013, a 3.7 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Montana Department of Transportation. The local airport was the fourth busiest in the state, behind Bozeman (884,660), Billings (774,741) and Missoula (594,057). Among the four largest airports, only Kalispell and Bozeman saw overall increases in passengers in 2013. Bozeman was up 2 percent while Billings was down 12 percent and Missoula dipped 1.8 percent.At GPIA, the number of departing passengers was up nearly every month. There were 200,520, or nearly 7,000 more than the previous year. There were 197,403 arriving passengers at GPIA, or 7,500 more than 2012. The summer months of July and August — the peak of tourism season — were the largest in terms of total passengers with more than 60,000 both months.“It is very encouraging to see economic recovery begin to manifest itself in travel,” said Cindi Martin, the airport director.“We believe we are seeing both tourism and business travel improvements as evidenced by the fact that nearly every month in 2013 showed higher numbers of travelers flying in and out of our market than in the previous years.”Hoping to build on that momentum, a valley-wide group named AERO — short for Airline Enhancement Regional Organization — is formally taking flight with a goal of adding additional non-stop flights through GPIA as a way to benefit local businesses and tourism. The group is hosting an invite-only event Jan. 30 to introduce the initiative to business and community leaders, and after that the organization will begin trying to raise roughly $250,000 by May.AERO hopes to play an integral role in expanding air service by raising funds that could be used as collateral and leverage during negotiations with national airline carriers. In today’s industry, airlines are wary of risking flights to small markets that are not guaranteed to be profitable. A group like AERO could establish a backup fund for carriers if ridership numbers fall short during the year. This could also influence carriers to reduce airfare, which could increase ridership. By law, airports cannot provide backup funds that offset carriers’ losses, which underscores the value of a group like AERO.“The goal is to get a carrier to try something and if it stands on its own two feet, then they don’t require our (funding) anymore,” said Paul Johannsen, president of the AERO board, which includes members from across the valley.“In the industry right now, it’s so competitive and the margins are so thin because of the costs, so in order for them to try something new they need some sort of backing that insures they won’t get killed doing that.”Johannsen and others have researched other similar organizations that helped spur additional flights and also hired a firm to analyze the viability of various options.GPIA currently serves five year-round routes: Seattle, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul. There are also four seasonal routes: Oakland, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago.The Delta Connection, which offers non-stop flights to Salt Lake City and Minneapolis and occasionally Atlanta, was the most popular service in Kalispell last year, with 57,829 total boardings, according to the MDT. Horizon Air/Alaska Air, which flies to Seattle, was the second most popular service with 53,517.By raising $250,000, AERO could lure a potential winter flight to Chicago, which has been identified as a popular possibility. The state tourism office has increasingly poured marketing funds into the Chicago area and found success in drawing visitors.An eight-week service offering two flights per week would require roughly $225,000 from AERO, according to Johannsen.“We’d like to get the funds committed and in the bank to potentially talk about that,” he said.“We’re not locked into any carrier or any market yet, but in order to get one of these you basically need the money in the bank. Our goal is to have a fund we build up and get businesses and community partners to participate so that we could hopefully get to the point of getting three or four more direct fights in the valley.” Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Darrun Hilliard scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half, JayVaughn Pinkston added 16 points, and No. 6 Villanova clinched at least a share of its second straight Big East regular-season title with an 89-61 rout of No. 25 Providence on Tuesday night.Ryan Arcidiacono added 13 points and four assists for the Wildcats (26-2 overall, 13-2 Big East), who shot 53 percent from the field and 52 percent from 3-point range en route to their ninth straight win.Tyler Harris led Providence (19-9, 9-6) with 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting.Before the game, Hilliard and Pinkston were honored for Villanova’s senior night ceremony. Tuesday’s game was the Wildcats’ last of the season at the Pavilion, their on-campus gym where they’ve won 26 straight dating back to the 2012-13 season.No. 14 MARYLAND 59, No. 5 WISCONSIN 53COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Dez Wells scored 26 points, and Maryland held off Wisconsin, ending the Badgers’ 10-game winning streak and ruining their bid to clinch a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.Melo Trimble added 16 points for the second-place Terrapins (23-5, 11-4 Big Ten), who blew an 11-point halftime lead but finished the game with a 12-6 run.The victory improved Maryland’s home record to 17-1. The Terrapins are 9-0 in games decided by six points or fewer, and they’ve won their last three by a total of 17 points.Maryland led 55-52 before Trimble made a driving layup and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but after Wisconsin misfired twice on the other end, Trimble iced it with a pair of foul shots. The Badgers (25-3, 13-2) missed nine of their last 10 shots.SYRACUSE 65, No. 9 NOTRE DAME 60SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — B.J. Johnson scored 19 points, Rakeem Christmas added 14 despite being in foul trouble and Syracuse held Notre Dame to 35 percent shooting in a victory.The Irish trailed by 10 in the first half and by seven with less than 2 minutes left, but managed to cut the lead to 59-57 when Jerian Grant sank a pair of free throws with 39 seconds remaining. The Orange put the game away with a fastbreak dunk by Johnson and a free throw when he was fouled.The Orange (18-10, 9-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat the Irish for the sixth time in the last seven games. Notre Dame (24-5, 12-4) dropped to third place in league standings.Bonzie Colson led the Irish with 16 points and Grant and Pat Connaughton added 13 points each, although Jackson finished 2-of-8 from the field.NORTH CAROLINA STATE 58, No. 15 NORTH CAROLNA 46CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Anthony “Cat” Barber scored 15 points and North Carolina State beat North Carolina, earning its first road win in the series in a dozen years.Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner each added 14 points for the Wolfpack (17-11, 8-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who earned a second marquee road victory this month in pursuit of a fourth straight NCAA tournament trip. N.C. State didn’t shoot particularly well, but it played with toughness and composure while frustrating the Tar Heels (19-9, 9-6) just about all night.By the end, N.C. State had held UNC to its lowest point total in it’s nearly three-decade run in the Smith Center. Not to mention beat a Roy Williams-coached Tar Heels team in Chapel Hill for the first time ever.Freshman Justin Jackson scored 16 points for the Tar Heels, who shot 35 percent.No. 18 ARKANSAS 81, TEXAS A&M 75FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Bobby Portis scored 22 points and Arkansas won its seventh straight game with a victory over Texas A&M.The win solidifies the Razorbacks (23-5, 12-3 Southeastern Conference) hold on second place in the SEC heading into a showdown with No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday. It also gives Arkansas, which has won 10 of 11 games overall, 12 wins in SEC play for the first time since the 1994-95 season.Anthlon Bell added 14 points and Alandise Harris and Ky Madden had 11 each for the Razorbacks, who led by as many as 25 points in the first half before holding off a second-half rally by the Aggies (19-8, 10-5).Danuel House led Texas A&M with 28 points, while Kourtney Roberson had 14 — 12 coming in the second half.No. 20 WEST VIRGINIA 71, TEXAS 64MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Devin Williams scored 14 points to lead West Virginia to a win over Texas.Daxter Miles Jr. and Jonathan Holton added 12 points apiece and Jevon Carter had 10 for West Virginia. Their outside scoring helped the Mountaineers (22-6, 10-5 Big 12) break open a close game in the second half and end a four-game losing streak to the Longhorns (17-11, 6-9).Demarcus Holland scored 14 points and Isaiah Taylor added 13 for Texas, which couldn’t overcome an 18-point first-half deficit and lost its third straight.West Virginia figured out a way to outfox the bigger, more physical Longhorns. West Virginia scored 28 points in the paint — 14 more than in a 77-50 loss to the Longhorns last month in Austin, Texas.
The draw for the new editions of the Champions League and Europa League will not take place in Athens, as planned. This was announced by UEFA after talks with the Greek football authorities. The reason for the relocation of the ceremonies is the measures against the coronavirus, which are applied in Greece. In our southern neighbor, all public events and the gathering of many people in common areas are prohibited.UEFA has announced that the draw for the Champions League will be drawn on October 1 in the offices of the headquarters in Nyon, and the hall will not be attended by guests as representatives of the clubs. The draw for the Europa League will take place a day later at the same venue.The matches of the group stage of the Champions League start on October 20. Follow us anywhere and anytime with the mobile application of Gong.bg. You can download it from Google Play, App Store and AppGallery.