Chamber supports grant plan

Transportation group seeks funds to aid YVRA jet service

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— The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association has endorsed a plan to seek grant funding to bolster the resort's winter airline program as well as initiate summer jet service between Houston and Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

In a letter to the Routt County Board of Commissioners, Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans-Hall expressed her organization's willingness to participate in the Northwest Colorado Air Transportation Association. The association is pursuing a $1.17 million federal grant from the Department of Transportation. The grant requires a local match of almost $1.1 million.

"While a large portion of the grant request will enhance our current winter air program, which is very important," Evans-Hall wrote in the letter, "we are also enthused at the prospect of bringing a new carrier to our area during the summer months.

"This new service could establish competition with the existing commuter service, providing potential for lower air fares, increased visitor markets and addition accessibility to national and international destinations for our residents."

Among other flights, the grant would be used to fund and market daily service on Continental Airlines between Houston and YVRA beginning June 1 and ending Dec. 15. The grant proposal anticipates the route would be flown by a 50-passenger regional jet beginning in 2002. The flights would tentatively generate 9,900 roundtrip seats.

In addition to the summer service from Houston, the grant and local matching funds would be used to underwrite flight revenue guarantees for ski season flights from Newark and Atlanta.

Competition for the grants is likely to be keen. The Department of Transportation has $20 million to award and is expected to approve no more than 40 proposals nationwide. The limit is four grants per state.

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