Steamboat Springs The number of airline passengers arriving at Yampa Valley Regional Airport grew in December for the third straight year, with Air Wisconsin's fleet of commuter jets leading the way.
December arrivals at YVRA last month totaled 16,486, compared to 15,371 in December 2001 and 14,688 in December 2000.
Every airline serving the airport near Hayden was up in December, with the notable exception of American Airlines, which flies to YVRA from both Chicago and Dallas.
American was down 533 passengers from December 2001.
Air Wisconsin, which operates as United Express, flew 5,593 passengers here from Denver during December.
Most of those passengers were connecting from cities beyond Denver.
Air Wisconsin is operating four flights a day on British Aerospace 146 jets, which can transport 86 to 100 passengers, depending upon how they are configured, YVRA Manager Jim Parker said.
Parker said airport operations flowed "fairly well" despite some problems surrounding the new tents outside the terminal that departing passengers must enter in order to wait for federally mandated luggage screening for explosives.
"We had some confusion over the tents -- people didn't know where to go -- but we're resolving that with signage and some stanchions to help them line up," Parker said.
Airport snow removal operations ran around the clock on Dec. 31, a heavy travel day, Parker added.
The December traffic on Air Wisconsin was up dramatically from December 2001, when United airlines was slow to recover from the aftereffects of the Sept. 11 attacks, and its commuter partner flew just 3,700 passengers here.
However, the Air Wisconsin/United Express numbers also compare favorably to December 2000, when Air Wisconsin flew 4,086 passengers here.
Great Lakes Aviation was also operating as United Express in December 2001 and flew an additional 667 passengers into YVRA that month.
Air Wisconsin represents the only commercial air service into YVRA for seven months of the year. The other airlines fly direct jet flights from major cities beginning in mid December and continuing into April.
Air Wisconsin accounted for nearly 40 percent of passengers (43,042) arriving at YVRA on an annual basis in 2002.
American had the next biggest share at about 25 percent, or 26,763 passengers. Yet, it was American that showed a dip in December 2002. The airline flew 3,816 passengers here last month, compared to 4,349 in December 2001.
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