Passengers arriving at YVRA up in January

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The number of passengers arriving at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in January was up 5 percent over January 2004.

Arrivals at the airport near Hayden were up 1,175, to 23,763.

Records kept by Routt County show that improved performance on Northwest Airlines' daily flight from Minneapolis and the addition of Saturday service from Cincinnati, Ohio, on Delta helped keep passenger numbers ahead of last year.

Andy Wirth, vice president marketing for American Skiing Company's western resorts, said an exclusive "Kids Fly Free" program with United Airlines also helped bring families to Steamboat who might not have otherwise traveled in January. The three airlines flying under the United flag were up almost 1,200 passengers in January.

On the down side, Continental Airlines, which flies to YVRA from Houston and Newark, N.J., was off about 200 passengers in January. And Delta's service from Salt Lake City suffered when the airline was slow to adjust fares to drive yield.

Delta, with weekly service from Atlanta as well as Cincinnati and the daily flights from Salt Lake City, was up about 240 passengers for the month. However that was to be expected with the new Cincinnati service.

Wirth said Delta went into December with fares to YVRA out of kilter with historical numbers and prevailing customer demand. Delta was undergoing personnel changes in its department that balances fare prices and load factors on individual flights. It took Steamboat officials almost 45 days to get the situation rectified with Delta and by then, it was too late for January travel, Wirth said. Reservations from Salt Lake City for February and March showed a positive upturn as soon as fares were adjusted, Wirth said.

"Our little flight was caught up in a bad place," Wirth said.

Wirth was more encouraged with the Cincinnati flight, which operates on a 183-passenger Boeing 757 that arrives at YVRA late Saturday afternoons and returns the next mornings. That flight was 60 percent full in January, Wirth said. That number doesn't match the 80 percent load factor achieved by Delta's inaugural Atlanta/YVRA flight last ski season. But Wirth said the Cincinnati flight is giving the resort more business from the mid-Atlantic and New England states without harming the daily flights from Chicago on American Airlines.

Wirth predicted that when the ski season is over, the Chicago flight will have posted the best numbers in the history of the Steamboat airline program.

Northwest Airlines, with daily direct flights on a 124-passenger Airbus 319, brought 2,777 passengers to YVRA in January, up 441 from the same month last year.

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