Delta Airlines accounts for airline growth

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Seven commercial airlines delivered 22,588 passengers to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in January -- more than in any other January in the three previous years. However, several major airlines showed modest declines last month.

Load factors on arriving aircraft ranged between 53 percent and 58 percent.

Inaugural service by Delta Airlines from Atlanta and Salt Lake City contributed to the growth at the airport west of Steamboat Springs. Delta brought 2,550 passengers to the Yampa Valley last month. Delta's arriving aircraft were 53 percent full, compared with 86 percent full in December.

January's airline totals represent 1,493 more passengers than in 2003, 1,879 more than 2002 and 734 more than 2001. February and March typically are much busier months than January for YVRA. For example, American Airlines delivered 7,115 passengers in February 2003 and 8,130 in March 2003.

In spite of the overall gain, American, Continental and Northwest airlines all carried fewer arriving passengers than the corresponding month last year.

American, with daily flights from Chicago and Dallas, accounted for 5,477 arrivals, compared with 5,574 last year. Its planes were 54 percent full on average when they arrived at YVRA, according to Margot Gasch, Routt County's accounting manager who oversees the airport. Gasch could not distinguish among load factors for flights arriving from different cities.

Continental, with daily flights from Houston and a weekly flight from Newark, carried 3,748 arrivals, compared with 4,094 a year ago. Load factors were 56 percent.

Northwest, with a daily flight from Minneapolis was down from 2,923 in 2003 to 2,336 last month. Load factors were 58 percent.

United Airlines' daily 737 from Denver carried 2,183 passengers last month with a load factor of 58 percent.

United Express, operated in tandem by Air Wisconsin and Mesa Airlines, accounted for the single biggest total by an airline, delivering 6,294 passengers. That's almost the same number carried by United Express last year.

January's decline of almost 1,500 passengers comes after December 2003 chalked up a gain of 773 passengers over December 2002.

Delta is flying a 183-passenger Boeing 757 into YVRA on Saturdays and a daily 737 from Salt Lake City.

The 2, 550 passengers delivered by Delta last month corresponded closely to the numbers carried by TWA in January 2000 and 2001, when TWA operated a flight that began in Atlanta and stopped in St. Louis before continuing on to YVRA.

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