Puddle jumpers haul 'em in

Commuter planes bring in most visitors


— More than 14,688 passengers arrived at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in December, and in spite of jet flights from Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis and Atlanta, it was a commuter airline that carried the greatest single share of that passenger volume.

Records on file at the Routt County accounting department show Air Wisconsin, operating as United Express out of Denver, carried the greatest share 4,086 passengers on 99 flights.

Air Wisconsin and companion United Express carrier Great Lakes Aviation, were the only two airlines that flew into the airport near Hayden for the entire month of December. Jet flights on TWA, American, Continental, Midway, United and Northwest airlines did not begin to arrive until Dec. 14.

County Accounting Manager Margot Gasch said the county tracks arrivals and passenger numbers in order to bill the airlines for landing fees at its airport.

County officials tally airline passengers in two ways deplanements, people getting off newly arrived aircraft, and enplanements, passengers boarding aircraft to leave the Yampa Valley. However, Gasch said landing fees are calculated using the "landing weight" of the aircraft, which takes into account the number of passengers on board.

The industry standard is to report enplanements, and over the course of a ski season or year, enplanements and deplanements tend to even out, Gasch said. But at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, enplanements don't give the best picture of December activity. That's because the jet program is just getting under way, and many passengers deplane the last week of the month and don't enplane until January.

For purposes of comparison, December 2000 enplanements at YVRA totaled 10,226 for all airlines. The number in 1999 was 10,722, and in 1998 December enplanements totaled 10,489. Enplanements are the number of passengers leaving Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Vice President of Marketing Andy Wirth has repeatedly pointed out to resort leaders that the number of seats arriving at YVRA this winter is down about 11 percent throughout the length of the ski season.

Load factors on aircraft arriving at YVRA in December included: Northwest (from Minneapolis), 74 percent; TWA (from Atlanta/St. Louis), 84 percent; Continental (from Houston and Newark), 90 percent; Air Wisconsin (commuter from DIA), 71 percent; United Airlines (737 from DIA and Los Angeles), 84 percent; American Airlines (from Dallas), 89 percent; Midway (from Raleigh-Durham), 70 percent; Great Lakes Aviation (commuter from DIA), 84 percent; Champion (charters), 59 percent.

Air Wisconsin completed 129 of 142 scheduled arrivals in December, with 13 flights canceled primarily for weather and mechanical reasons. Two flights were canceled because a crew was unavailable.

Great Lakes Aviation completed 42 of 46 scheduled arrivals in December.


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