Airline makes up for cutbacks

Early ski season reservations from Dallas, Chicago climb

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American Airlines is picking up United's slack, Steamboat Ski Area marketing executive Andy Wirth said.

United Airlines has reduced the number of incoming airline seats between Yampa Valley Regional Airport and Denver International Airport for the coming ski season.

Wirth told his audience Friday at the annual meeting of the Chamber Resort Association that year-to-date airline reservations are up 9.8 percent despite a 4 percent decrease in available seats. The decrease in seats is attributable to United's decision to pull Air Wisconsin's small jet fleet out of most of the ski town markets, including Steamboat, Wirth said. Air Wisconsin operated at Yampa Valley as United Express. During the 2004-05 ski season, United Express delivered 49,800 seats from Denver to the regional airport, Steamboat Airline Program Director Janet Fischer said. This ski season, the number is expected to be closer to 40,000, she said. Flight schedule adjustments at this point, are being made frequently for different periods of the ski season.

United's main line will continue to fly a daily Boeing 737 to Yampa Valley this ski season. But the remaining flights are all on the 37-passenger Dash-8 turboprop operated by Mesa Airlines as United Express. Gone from the market are the three 88-passenger British Aerospace 146 jets.

"For the first time in 14 years, American has become the dominant carrier into Yampa Valley Regional Airport," Wirth said. "We're seeing that travelers who might have booked on United (in previous years) are rebooking from Chicago and Dallas on the 757."

American Airlines' daily flights from Dallas and Chicago are up 32 percent and 47 percent respectively, Wirth said. Service from both cities begins Dec. 15. American will fly an additional jet from Dallas on Saturdays through March 25. American added 6,000 inbound seats this year.

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