February airline arrivals were down

1,000 fewer passengers deplaned

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— The number of passengers arriving at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in February was down 1,000 from the same month a year earlier.

Routt County is reporting 24,754 people arrived at the airport west of Steamboat Springs last month. Of the five major airlines that serve YVRA during ski season, only Northwest, with daily service from Minneapolis, was up modestly.

Northwest flew 3,057 passengers to YVRA in February, up by 118 from last February. The biggest declines were posted by American Airlines flying out of Dallas and Chicago and by Air Wisconsin, from Denver as United Express.

American slipped by 608 passengers to 7,115. That drop came as no surprise to Andy Wirth, the vice president of marketing for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Wirth has seen the Dallas market struggle after the timing of the YVRA flight was changed, making it less convenient for passengers connecting from cities beyond Dallas.

Air Wisconsin delivered 6,502 travelers here last month compared to 7,209 in February 2002.

Although Air Wisconsin's commuter jets have been flying under the cloud of United Airline's bankruptcy, the smaller airline had posted strong gains in January.

Continental, with direct flights from Houston and Newark, N.J., was off only slightly, carrying 3,057 passengers to the Yampa Valley, a decline of 118. However, Steamboat increased its capacity out of Houston this year, contracting with the airline to fly a 737 configured to carry more passengers.

United Airlines' daily 737 from Denver brought 2,179 travelers here last month, a drop of 238.

February's numbers were bolstered by charter flights operated by Casino Express. The charter brought in 610 people. Casino Express didn't operate any flights at YVRA last February. Other charter operators accounted for 270 deplanements in February 2002.

The airlines' aggregate numbers compare favorably to February 2001, when 24,410 passengers arrived at the airport, but not as well to February 2000, when almost 27,000 travelers arrived in February. The figures for 2001 and 2000 were boosted by a daily flight from Atlanta via St. Louis on TWA. That flight no longer exists.

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