United Express slightly down

Continental flights to Houston nearly full in August

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The 50-passenger Continental Airlines jets leaving Yam--pa Valley Regional Airport for Houston were nearly full throughout August.

The jet service between YVRA and Houston shut down for the season Sept. 6 after averaging 91 percent capacity in August, Routt County airline accounting manager Tom Heilner said.

A year ago, during the inaugural summer of the Houston service, the same planes averaged 78 percent capacity. For the summer, traffic on the Houston flights was up 16.5 percent.

United Express service experienced a slight drop during the summer but still served almost three times as many passengers as Continental.

Continental flew the single daily flight to Houston, and United Express offered four daily roundtrip flights to and from Denver on 37-passenger Dash-8 turboprops.

September figures have not been released by the airlines.

This month marks the beginning of fall service between YVRA and Salt Lake City on Delta Airlines. Just as Houston serves as a hub for Continental, Salt Lake City is the Western hub for Delta, offering multiple daily connections to cities such as Atlanta and Los Angeles.

The Steamboat business com--munity agreed in spring 2004 to underwrite the revenue guarantees necessary to attract the flights. The intent was to augment the United Express service. In addition, business officials hoped the presence of a second airline in the market would result in cheaper fares.

In August, a Steamboat travel agent reported roundtrip airfares to the Yampa Valley from Tampa, Fla., at less than $400 on Delta and United.

In August, United and Continental combined to carry 5,050 departing passengers at the airport 22 miles west of Steamboat. Continental's passenger numbers were up 8.6 percent from last year's August figures. The airline carried 1,125 arriving passengers this year compared with 1,036 in August 2004. The number of passengers departing for Houston in August was greater: 1,314.

United was up only slightly in August, from 3,670 passengers in 2004 to 3,736 this year.

For June, July and August, United's passenger load was down about 1.3 percent.

-- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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