Thursday, September 20, 2007
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs resort officials still hope for a Lynx sighting at Yampa Valley Regional Airport this ski season, but they acknowledge that with every week that passes, opportunities are slipping away.
Lynx Aviation is a subsidiary of Frontier Airlines and has tentative plans to serve Rocky Mountain resort towns with its new fleet of 74-passenger Q400 turboprops. However, Frontier announced earlier this month that delays in getting federal certification have pushed the launch beyond Oct. 1.
Andy Wirth, marketing director for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. and its parent company, Intrawest, said Wednesday that the closer his resort gets to ski season, the greater the challenges in raising public awareness of the new flights in time to make an impact this winter.
"Everyone here is looking forward to welcoming Frontier (Lynx)," Wirth said. "But it's a new flight and in the fall timeframe, with all of Frontier's destination markets, it triples the challenge."
Wirth confirmed that Ski Corp.'s airline staff, which negotiates contracts on behalf of the resort community, has had productive talks with Frontier, leading local officials to anticipate twice-daily flights representing 20,000 additional ski season seats. Service has not been confirmed by the airline.
YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel confirmed there is an available ticketing desk at passenger check-in to accommodate Lynx should it receive its certification and choose to come to the county airport. The airline could share a gate with the SkyWest Delta connection.
"I think it's doable," Ruppel said.
Ski resorts in Colorado already are booking vacation flights for the December holidays. Without the Lynx seats on reservation computers, the first part of the ski season is booking up without filling the turboprops Frontier is counting on to eventually feed its larger jets based in Denver.
"Right now, there is very positive pressure in the pipeline for air seats," Wirth said. "They are up 5 to 8 percent over the same time last year."
The first three of Frontier's new destinations - Wichita, Kan., Rapid City, S.D., and Sioux City, Iowa - can be served by regional jets until Lynx gets its federal certification. Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas told the Steamboat Today in July that the remaining six destinations have been selected, but declined to confirm that YVRA is among the destination airports.
Wirth said in July that with Lynx service included, Steamboat would grow to 175,000 seats this ski season. On Wednesday, he emphasized the fact that even without the Lynx service this winter, 164,000 inbound seats represent a 7.8 percent increase from last ski season.
"Frontier's flights would be an added benefit, but it's not a foundation of our 2007-08 air program. Our business plan is built on what we know right now," Wirth said.