Steamboat Springs Yampa Valley Regional Airport will not see daily service from Salt Lake City, Utah, this fall, as a three-year federal aviation grant has expired.
But twice-daily service to Salt Lake City is in place on 50-passenger Delta Connection jets for this summer.
The flights "are loaded and they are for sale," said Janet Fischer, airline program director for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.
The Delta Connection summer service is in addition to thrice-daily United Express flights to Denver on 70-passenger jets. Local Delta Connection and United Express flights this summer will be operated by SkyWest Airlines of St. George, Utah.
The Steamboat Local Marketing District and governments in the Yampa Valley decided not to pick up the cost of the fall service to Salt Lake City. The LMD is a voter-approved district formed in 2005 to collect a 2 percent lodging tax in Steamboat Springs. The revenues support commercial air service in the Yampa Valley.
The fall service to Salt Lake City originally was underwritten by a $500,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant that was not expected to last beyond 2007. The town of Hayden, city of Craig, and Moffat County Tourism Association - with its Economic Development Commission - each contributed $5,000 annually. Routt County kicked in $40,000.
The expectation was that the federal DOT would provide seed money and the local community would decide whether to subsidize the air service beyond last fall. Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel wrote in a memo to the Yampa Valley Airport Commission last month that an unwillingness on the part of local governments and the Steamboat lodging community, which indirectly funds the LMD, spelled the end.
"The grant money ran out after fall 2007," Ruppel wrote. "The LMD, which was being asked to make up the difference, felt it was not getting enough out of the program. Since there did not appear to be any support from Moffat County, even though it could be argued that it received a proportionately greater benefit from fall service during hunting season, the LMD pulled its support."
Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said one of the primary reasons the county accepted the federal grant in the spring of 2005 was a perceived need to bring a competing airline to the valley in autumn.
"That was the biggest reason for us to get the grant," he said, "To get competition and to get the fares down."
YVRA's service outside of ski season this year will see three daily 50-passenger jet flights to Denver this spring, continuing through June 4.
United Express will shift to three daily 70-passenger jets on June 5. Delta Connection begins its twice-daily summer service to Salt Lake City on June 6. Both airlines' summer schedule continues through Sept. 1.
Fall jet service on United Express begins Sept. 2, Fischer said, with two daily 70-passenger jets and one flight on a 50-passenger jet.