Come April, the entire fleet of planes that United Express flies out of Yampa Valley Regional Airport will be similar to the jet that is shown in this December 2006 photo.

file photo

Come April, the entire fleet of planes that United Express flies out of Yampa Valley Regional Airport will be similar to the jet that is shown in this December 2006 photo.

More jets coming to YVRA

United and Ski Corp. deal will increase seats year-round

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United Express Jets

Andy Wirth with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. discusses the addition of jets to the United Express fleet.

Andy Wirth with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. discusses the addition of jets to the United Express fleet.

— Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. has struck what many call a long-overdue deal with United Airlines.

Starting April 7, jets will be the sole carriers of Yampa Valley Regional Airport passengers flying United Express.

Ski Corp. made the announcement Wednesday. On the schedule for the spring, summer and fall are two or three daily, roundtrip flights between YVRA in Hayden and Denver International Airport. The United Express flights will be operated by SkyWest Airlines and will result in a 33 percent increase in available seats during the non-winter months. The jet service will accompany the traditional winter-season YVRA flights. The planes will seat more people than the turbo-prop planes that have been used by United Express in recent years.

"This is really a significant effort toward improving Steamboat's accessibility," said Andy Wirth, Ski Corp.'s executive vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer for Intrawest. "Everybody should take a moment to celebrate this."

Ski Corp. negotiated the agreement, which won the support of the Local Marketing District. The voter-approved LMD was formed in 2005 to collect a 2 percent lodging tax in Steamboat Springs. The revenues are used to support commercial air service in the Yampa Valley.

Steve Dawes serves as the chairman of the LMD. He said the boost in flights is worth the additional undisclosed amount of money used to secure the enhanced service.

"As we look at the community, we see more demands from the local travelers as well as the visitors (who are) looking for quality of service, meaning jet service (compared to) prop service," Dawes said.

He said it was important to note that visitor lodging tax money is being used to enhance the air service, which will be a benefit to local residents.

"It's the visitors who pay for it," Dawes said.

Wirth echoed the LMD's reasons for supporting the service.

"Make no mistake, this service will benefit everyone in the Yampa Valley and will help support our diverse economy," Wirth said.

'We need better'

Many say the upgraded service is long overdue.

Proponents of quality commercial air service to Steamboat have had some turbulent times in recent years with the United Express service to DIA.

That turbulence came to a head in March 2006, when a delegation of Yampa Valley officials traveled to Chicago to discuss service issues on the route between YVRA and DIA. Concerns included on-time performance and the number of flights canceled by the service, operated by Mesa Airlines as a United Express carrier.

"We said to United : we need better, this valley deserves better. And it took us awhile, but they responded accordingly," Wirth said.

Wirth said Wednesday that replacing the United turbo-prop planes with jets was part of a multi-year effort to improve the quality of year-round air service.

SkyWest already operates a portion of United Express flights to and from YVRA, as does Mesa. SkyWest is also the operator for the Delta Airlines flights to and from Salt Lake City. In January and February, SkyWest-operated planes carried nearly 20 percent of the people who departed YVRA.

Wirth said SkyWest has made substantial improvements to the flight experience, including a significant increase to its ramp staff, baggage control center employees and dedicated customer service team working the Steamboat flights.

"We said we will not yield until we improve the quantity and quality of service into this valley on a year-round basis," Wirth said. "Today's announcement is evidence of that effort."

- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4247

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Malcolm_Reynolds 6 years, 11 months ago

Now, the Ski Corp needs to call Verizon Wireless to install a cell tower in Hayden. It is annoying to hear travelers that are delayed they can't get cell service or ask were the best place to stand to get cell service at the airport.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 11 months ago

It will be a great addition to the Valley to be able to travel more easily out of Hayden the entire year. Not just during the winter months. This will help SS become a year round destination.

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RoxyDad 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree 100 percent with Malcom

The Airport needs a cell tower. I travel every two weeks and thats all I hear from others is about the poor cell service.

Everything else at the airport is great. The folks there are doing a great job, even with the delays of flights that are beyond their control.

Oh yeah, the airlines need to acutually stick to their schedule. Their lax attitude towards being on time is very frustrating. I waited 2 hours yesterday for guests on a delayed flight. There were others there that were waiting 4 hours for a delayed continental. The Airlines need to stick to their schedules.

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Brian Smith 6 years, 11 months ago

Great news!! Since we are throwing out wishes here, wireless internet would be fantastic as well. Would help when planes are delayed to pass the time or work ;)

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JLM 6 years, 11 months ago

Hey, we need better air service (though I must state a real affinity for those high wing PT-6A turbines because of the view at night --- that is some sweet flying), better cell phone service, better luggage valet service, better parking and a shoe shine stand (well, I guess we really don't "need" the shoe shine stand but I just like shoe shine stands).

The increased flight service is a great triumph --- kudos to all and well done!

I think SBS is coming of age just now with the new owners and the impact of global warming improving the snow fall on an annual basis.

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JohnGalt 6 years, 11 months ago

I concur with RoxyDad, if we could just get all the "Transpo" people to adhere to their schedules no customers would ever be so inconvenienced as to wait 2-plus hours at the airport (excuse me while I shed a tear).

Speaking as a proloteriat service worker (Denver Shuttle Driver), and being subject to our Mother Nature's whims, I can say accurately that climactic conditions (especially in "Ski Town USA" where we all worship the snow) dictate transportation schedules more often than the vendeta that the airline had against RoxyDad. Please give us all a break as we all know that if you, RoxyDad could be CEO, Pilot, Marketing Executive, and Baggage Handler every schedule would always be on time to the minute, no matter what challenges may exist. Please get over yourself. There are good people working hard in all levels of every schedule dependent profession that exists and they are not all incompetent or indifferenet or as your comment about the airlines supposes.

As for the addition of available seats into the Yampa Valley I would imagine that abybody fortunate enough to have owned property more than two years ago would all be rejoicing, there's your retirement plan!!! More tourists flying into town and enjoying the natural splendor of the Yampa Valley is exacly what we need. Too bad it also has to bring in the wealthy and second home owning elite, who do little esle than to escalate property values, rents, and provide a few short term jobs.

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RoxyDad 6 years, 11 months ago

JohnGalt

Talk about what you know and zip up when you don't know anything.

You drive the denver shuttle so when a article discusses a shuttle we would like to hear from you. As far as airlines I am on them every week.

The flights yesterday were 1. delayed in Salt Lake for over a hour - not for weather, and the luggage was not loaded for over 75% of the passengers. In other words the luggage cart had the luggage for the flight and it was not loaded. The Airline circled for over 1 hour while 6 private jets landed and 4 took off. Are the private pilots better skilled than the commercial airline pilots? 2. a Continental flight went to Denver instead of Steamboat to get a spare part. This part was know to be needed all day for 3 previous stops. Why was this part not put on before steamboat?? The passengers were late by over 4 fhours.

Are they treating Steamboat differently than other stops? Thats your suggestion, not mine.

And yes JohnGalt I am a CEO and I can do a better job. Thanks for the complement. I am sure you are also a great shuttle driver. Stick with what you know.

Shuttles - You Airlines - Me

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JohnGalt 6 years, 11 months ago

RoxyDad,

You are right, shuttle driving is what I know. I had a very challenging day yesterday and had some people (waiting for their loved ones in Steamboat) irate at me because of how long the drive took from Denver. They yelled at me for things completely out of my control. As it turns out I incorrectly assumed you were doing the same with the airline criticism. I apologize for the comments directed to you. I truly knew nothing of the airline situation you dealt with. It just seems to me that when things don't work smoothly there is usually a reasonable explanation. Perhaps Continental is run by a bunch of knuckle heads, but most likely not :-)

More planes into the valley seems good, hooray for Steamboat!

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RoxyDad 6 years, 11 months ago

JohnGalt

Cheers! Hope to see you on the slopes with a smile.

Steamboat is a great place. Thats why I live here even with the hassles of air travel for work.

I notice a lot of passengers happy to arrive at the boat but really upset at the treatment of the airlines. Hopefully over time this will change. I also know this happpens in many cities other than the boat. Lets hope it all works out over time.

I agree everyone at the airport is doing a great job, its just the airlines actions prior to arriving to the boat that is the problem.

Its the season to have fun, so lets do it!

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Neil O'Keeffe 6 years, 11 months ago

What ever happened to Frontier Air flying in here? According to A. Wirth it was all but a done deal 6 months ago. As long as we have to rely on only one airline for all of our off season flights very little will change, be it pricing, service etc. We have to look no further than our own in valley shuttle service for what the lack of competition provides. Believe!

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digit1964 6 years, 11 months ago

The tower is on the cog and there is plenty of verizon service at the airport... tough to get service from hayden to steamboat due to the terrain... god just did not want you concentrating on the phone when you should be concentrating on the road!!

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 11 months ago

Rokboat....I read that they were having issues with the planes that they were supposed to be used here. It was some sister company of Frontier that is setting up shop here but it's been delayed for now.

I'll see if I can find the link to the story.

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 11 months ago

Well this was dated 12/4/07 and it said they were to begin service that Thursday.

http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_7635626

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addlip2U 6 years, 11 months ago

It is wonderful that Steamboat Ski and Resort is bringing so many guests into town.

Has Ski and Resort Corporation checked with the infrastructure of Steamboat to assure that businesses such as grocery stores, restaurants, taxi and city transportation can handle the amount of people ascending on to Steamboat?

Have you tried to book a taxi, restaurant or an activity, besides skiing on Mt. Werner, for our irate tourists who expect to have everything available and NOW?

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 11 months ago

The free market will take care of the restaurants, taxis, activities.

As far as city transportation issues go well that is another story.

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RoxyDad 6 years, 11 months ago

Cell phone service is VERY spotty at the airport.

I use both GSM (at&T) and Verizon. Both work spotty at airport. You usually have to be outside of the building for a signal. It definately needs a boosted signal from the cell operators.

It does work, but very poorly.

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