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Steamboat Springs There will be nonstop flights to Yampa Valley Regional Airport this ski season from more locations than ever before. Leading the way are flights from the New York ski market.
The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. has negotiated flights with five airlines with service from 10 major airports, including a new 183-passenger flight from New York's JFK Airport on Saturdays. There were nonstop flights with eight airports last year.
Service from New York's LaGuardia Airport will ex-
pand from six Saturdays this past ski season to every Saturday throughout the 2007-08 season. Combined with service from New Jersey's Newark Airport, YVRA will provide Saturday flights with a total capacity of 490 passengers from each of New York's three major airports.
"This is the single biggest undertaking of total capacity and new markets the resort has ever seen," said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
Wirth said Ski Corp. is "highly confident" the air program will reach 175,000 available seats this ski season, compared to 154,000 this past season. There were 128,000 seats available during the 2002-03 season.
"Steamboat has never been more accessible," Wirth said.
Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said she is excited to see weekly flights from all of New York's major airports.
"We have a lot of customers who are coming through that northeast part of the country," Evans Hall said.
Wirth said the expanded New York service is primarily aimed at the metropolitan area, estimating about 98 percent of passengers on the Saturday flights will originate from the New York area. By comparison, Wirth said Atlanta residents make up about 40 percent of the passengers on the flight from that city.
"New York is arguably the greatest single ski market in North America," Wirth said. "I don't know if there's any other market where you can drop three nonstop flights and have guaranteed success."
Expanded New York service will present a financial challenge as well, though, due to the cost of advertising the flights there.
"Accompanying the fact that New York is the single most lucrative ski market is the fact that it's the single most expensive media market," Wirth said. "But in this case, we feel the financial reward is there."
Wirth said an integrated marketing campaign for New York, dubbed "Operation Big Apple," will be launched in August.
Other services this ski season will include daily flights from Chicago, Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul. There will be daily and two Saturday flights from Dallas and Houston. Two flights daily will arrive from Salt Lake City and a total of five flights daily will arrive from Denver.
The flights will be offered through five carriers: American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United airlines.
Evans Hall credited the air program's growth to the continued growth of a secure funding source for the program through the Local Marketing District and the Fly Steamboat program. A 2 percent lodging tax is assessed within the Local Marketing District and goes into the airline program. Businesses that participate in the Fly Steamboat program contribute money to the air program in exchange for benefits such as a state tax credit and airline ticket drawings. Fly Steamboat usually generates more than $200,000, Evans Hall said.
To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.