Smooth running at YVRA


— The only snafus at Yampa Valley Regional Airport during the Christmas weekend were attributed to backups at the Eagle County and Aspen-Pitkin County airports.

YVRA, the airport that serves Northwest Colorado, and most of its passengers seemed relatively immune to the holiday travel nightmares that stranded thousands in the East during the weekend.

YVRA official Ann Copeland said the only slowdown in flights during the last three days came when the Denver flight control center instructed pilots ready to taxi for takeoff from YVRA to wait. They were put on hold while traffic coming in and out of the Vail and Aspen areas cleared the area.

"We share the same airspace with Eagle and Aspen," Copeland said.

Copeland said arriving planes would average 99 percent of capacity through today. Then, after a brief lull Wednesday, traffic will build as people head home from their ski vacations.

Some flights departing Friday through Sunday are overbooked at 102 to 103 percent capacity, Copeland said.

"Thank gosh things went smoothly last weekend," Copeland said. "I'm hoping it's like that this weekend, but it doesn't look like it will be."

She was referring to long-range weather reports that indicate there will be a chance of snow in the valley beginning today and continuing every day through Sunday.

Copeland and Janet Fischer, director of airline programs for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said the winter storm that slammed the Ohio Valley did not seem to have a major effect on holiday travelers destined for the Yampa Valley. The second flight in Delta Airline's inaugural service between Cincinnati, Ohio, and YVRA, arrived just a little late Saturday, and after remaining at the airport overnight as scheduled, took off for Ohio on Sunday morning.

"We did have some baggage issues (for Cincinnati passengers), but I think they've got that sorted out," Copeland said.

Fischer said it's difficult to say whether passengers who might have been on the Cincinnati flight didn't make it because they missed connections from other cities.

"I think overall, we're having a good week turning our planes over out there," Fischer said.

Passengers due to fly into Steamboat on United Airlines from Denver could have been affected if they were flying US Airways from Cincinnati to Denver International Airport because of a code-sharing agreement observed by the airlines. US Airways experienced a work slowdown last the weekend, but Fischer said Steamboat Central Reservations knew of just one party bound for Steamboat via US Airways that gave up and canceled its vacation.

Fischer said United and Delta are among the airlines that have added flights just to help travelers get to Steamboat for holiday ski vacations. Delta normally flies a 183-passenger Boeing 757 to YVRA from Atlanta weekly on Saturdays. The airline added direct flights Sunday through Wednesday, Fischer said. The flight on Christmas Day was 85 percent full, followed by a sold-out flight Sunday. Monday's plane was at 99 percent and today's flight is expected to be 93 percent full, Fischer said.

Delta passengers returning to Atlanta and other cities have the option of taking a daily flight from YVRA to the airline's hub in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Fischer said United Express has boosted its daily flights from Denver with more operations on 37-passenger turboprops and the 88-passenger BAE 146 regional jet.

Everyone at a ski resort prays for snow, but Copeland wants to have it both ways.

"If I had a perfect life, it would snow in Steamboat but not in Hayden," she said.


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