Updated: April 11, 2008 08:30 AM EDT
Officials with the Transportation Security Administration have announced that the TSA will provide passenger screening at seven smaller Montana airports once Essential Air Service to those airports resumes.
Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg made the announcement on Thursday following a meeting with transportation officials.
TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said the agency has sent letters to the airports in Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Lewistown, Miles City, Sidney and Wolf Point to inform them that federal screening will be available.
Currently, all flights from the seven airports go to Billings and passengers are then routed through security after landing.
In a prepared statement, Rehberg said, "Traveling by air is a hassle enough when it comes to security to those in Montana. But the smaller communities that rely on essential air service that have to go to a bigger community like Billings, get on a bus with their luggage, go outside the terminal, come back in and go through security, just didn't make a lot of sense."
Rep. Rehberg says if given a 30 day notice the TSA screening will start as soon as EAS flights resume. EAS service at the seven small airports ended when Big Sky Airlines went out of business in early March.
Wyoming-based Great Lakes Aviation took over the contract from Big Sky, and representatives say they plan to have the additional planes purchased and ready to fly in July.
-Jami Bond reporting from KTVQ in Billings