Frontier to return to YVRA this winter | SteamboatToday.com

Frontier to return to YVRA this winter

Ski Corp. announces airline plan to fly daily to Hayden airport

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. announced Thursday that Frontier Airlines will fly daily at YVRA next winter, to and from Denver, with a 99-passenger, Embraer 190 aircraft.

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Flights to and from YVRA can be booked through Steamboat Central Reservations at 800-922-2722 or online at http://www.steamboat.com.

— Frontier Airlines will return to Yampa Valley Regional Airport next winter.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. announced Thursday that the airline, through owner Republic Airways Holdings, will offer a daily flight to and from Denver International Airport starting Dec. 16 and ending April 10. The flights go on sale Sun­­day.

Andy Wirth, Ski Corp.'s senior vice president of sales and marketing, said Frontier would fly a 99-passenger Embraer 190 aircraft in and out of YVRA. The announcement comes as Ski Corp. faces its second consecutive winter season with declining airline seat capacity.

Wirth said Thursday that the total seat capacity for 2010-11 is between 123,000 and 128,000 seats, down from about 134,000 seats this past winter. YVRA's total seat capacity was about 158,000 in the winter of 2008-09.

"We're down substantially on total air capacity," Wirth said about the upcoming ski and snowboard season. "We know we need more airline seats, and that's frankly what we're focused on."

Frontier provided service to YVRA in winter 2008-09, but it dropped the service the next summer amid Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The airline initially flew three daily flights to YVRA, using Bombardier Q400 aircraft operated by Lynx Aviation.

"We strongly asserted the point to the Frontier senior executives, at that time, that they were flying far too many airline seats into the valley," Wirth said. "We actually knew that they were going to fail."

Playing on a Frontier advertising slogan, Wirth said the airline's new ownership has created "a whole different animal" this time around.

"We're truly thrilled," Wirth said about the daily flights this winter. "This is a whole new carrier with new management … they've been asking questions; they've been very receptive to input.

"That's why we're so excited about this."

American Airlines, Continen­tal Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines will continue their YVRA service next winter. Delta acquired Northwest Airlines in 2008.

Wirth and other Ski Corp. officials work with airlines to schedule flights each season. The resort and local businesses, through a marketing district, pay to guarantee a certain amount of revenue to airlines that fly to YVRA. Wirth said in April that the payments "will be north of $2.4 million" this year, after a ski season that saw a drop in 9,000 passengers despite discounted fares.

Frontier wasn't part of the revenue program during its first run at YVRA and won't be this time, either.

"We have not provided any kind of revenue guarantees on this flight," Wirth said.

The incoming Frontier flights are scheduled to leave Denver at 12:05 p.m. and arrive at YVRA at 12:55 p.m. daily. Outgoing flights are scheduled to leave YVRA at 1:30 p.m. and arrive in Denver at 2:25 p.m.

Wirth said those flight times would provide "ideal" connection options for travelers. A Ski Corp. news release said Frontier offers routes to more than 70 destinations in the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica.

"We are very excited to be back in Steamboat Springs and one of Colorado's premier winter destinations," Daniel Shurz, vice president of planning and strategy for Frontier, said in the release.

Wirth said he's been talking closely with Frontier officials in recent weeks.

"Frontier's analysis has yielded that the demand is warranted to fly to Steamboat," he said.