Steamboat Springs Frontier Airlines could begin year-round service from Denver to Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden as soon as this fall. The service would bolster what already is expected to be YVRA's biggest winter air program to date.
"I'd characterize the conversations with Frontier as positive and productive, but, nonetheless, not concluded," said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
Although a decision is not official, Wirth said he'd "put money on it" when asked to assess Steamboat Springs' chances of landing the service.
Frontier announced last year that it was expanding its Denver-based fleet by purchasing 10 new 74-passsenger, turbo-prop Bombardier Q-400 planes for regional service. Frontier Airlines President and CEO Jeff Potter said the airline sent out a "request for proposal" to 65 communities and heard back from 62 of them. Steamboat was one of those communities, Wirth said.
"However, we had to narrow down this great list of opportunities to what will ultimately be about nine new cities that we will serve with the Q-400 by December 2007," Potter said.
Potter is a former YVRA employee, and his in-laws live in Hayden.
The first three of Frontier's new destinations - Wichita, Kan.; Rapid City, S.D.; and Sioux City, Iowa - were announced last week. The remaining new destinations will be announced in about a month, Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas said.
Hodas would not comment on whether YVRA has been chosen. He said Frontier officials already have selected the remaining six communities but the airline is awaiting regulatory approval before making an official announcement.
"We can't talk about additional markets until we make the announcement," Hodas said. "But the next round of announcements will likely include some Colorado mountain communities."
Wirth's confidence in winning the Frontier service led him to include the service in an estimate last month of 175,000 available seats for air passenger service this ski season. Wirth said Frontier would be a popular addition to YVRA's existing service.
"I get stopped in the grocery store and restaurants all the time by people lobbying for Frontier," Wirth said. "It's clear and evident that they are a popular carrier in our area."
Frontier's subsidiary, Lynx Aviation, would operate the flights. Lynx has received conditional approval from the Department of Transportation to begin service with the fleet of Q-400s in September, but is still in the process of securing the appropriate Federal Aviation Administration approval and the final DOT approval that would follow.
Hodas said the airline would have liked to have announced all of its new flights months ago, but has been held up while waiting for regulatory approval.