Air support: Businesses give $130,000

Incentives offered to help program reach $750,000 goal for ski-season flights


Area businesses had committed to contribute $130,000 to this winter's ski season jet program as of midday Monday, with another 30 hours remaining in a special incentive program.

The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., in cooperation with the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, offered as an incentive for the jet subsidy program a $100 deduction on the deposit that must be paid by employers to hold merchant ski passes for their winter employees. The incentive program also gave employees 20 more days (until Jan. 30) to pay off the balance of their ski passes. In return, employers were being asked to contribute at least $1,000 to the "Transportation Support Fund," which is intended to help defray the cost of contracting with various airlines to continue direct jet flights here during ski season. The goal is to raise $750,000 for the support fund.

Employers were not required to contribute to the Transportation Support Fund in order to reserve merchant passes. And employers who were unable to make up their minds about the fund, but reserved merchant passes with full $300 deposits by the Wednesday deadline, retained the right to make a contribution by Sept. 15, and qualify for the $100 deposit reduction retroactively.

"It's our hope that a large percentage of those that need an incentive (to contribute to the airline program) will be incentivized by this," Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall said. "Of those who are participating thus thus far, most are contributing in excess of $2,000."

Ski Area Marketing Vice President Andy Wirth said Monday the primary focus of business owners should be to keep the airline program strong the reduced deposit on merchant passes is intended to be a bonus. But he understands that some business owners need time to study the transportation fund.

"We created that 30-day grace period for exactly that reason," Wirth said. "So far the response has been very positive."

Business leaders have been meeting since July 12 to try to raise $750,000 in airline flight guarantees to ensure available seats into Yampa Valley Regional Airport this winter don't fall any further than 11 percent below last year's level. During ski season 1999/2000 the ski corp.'s jet program brought more than 150,000 round-trip airline seats into YVRA which translated into a total of 100,000 passengers.


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