Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. in June announced the 2008-09 ski season flight program to Yampa Valley Regional Airport. Total available seats are down slightly from 2007-08 numbers, but officials are pleased with the program given the state of the airline industry.

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Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. in June announced the 2008-09 ski season flight program to Yampa Valley Regional Airport. Total available seats are down slightly from 2007-08 numbers, but officials are pleased with the program given the state of the airline industry.

Air travel trimmed

Ski season flight program navigates industry turbulence

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Yampa Valley Regional Airport by the numbers

2007-08 ski season passengers

November: 7,167

December: 34,190

January: 58,921

February: 62,299

March: 65,334

April: 8,414

*includes arriving and departing passengers

- Source: YVRA

— Slightly fewer airplane seats will be available to Steamboat Springs visitors next ski season.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. released preliminary air travel capacity information Monday for Yampa Valley Regional Airport for the 2008-09 ski season. A New York flight and a Chicago flight have been dropped, and several airlines will end service earlier than usual.

The changes reflect "as volatile an environment as I've ever seen in the travel industry," said Andy Wirth, chief marketing officer for Intrawest, Ski Corp.'s parent company.

Crude oil was trading at more than $130 a barrel Monday afternoon. The record-high costs have shoved up jet fuel costs, and airlines are cutting capacity and jobs and increasing fees and fares.

Ski Corp. expects a total of 159,000 seats to be available for 2008-09. In 2007-08, a record year for the flight program, 162,915 were available.

Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines will continue to offer nonstop flights to the New York area. Delta flies to LaGuardia Airport, and Continental provides service to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. Delta's flight to JFK International Airport will be cut for 2008-09.

Steamboat negotiators and Delta agreed it would be best to drop the route next season, Wirth said. But he said he expects the JFK flight to return in a year or two.

"New York remains one of the most, if not the most, lucrative ski markets in North America," Wirth said.

United Airlines will drop its Chicago flight. That route is not part of the Local Marketing District's deal with airlines, which guarantees carriers a certain amount of revenue and covers the difference each year.

The guaranteed revenue from that marketing district allows Steamboat to plan air travel with an eye toward the long term, Wirth said.

"If it wasn't for that taxing district, we'd be in a very challenged position," he said.

As it stands, Steamboat is in a better place than many other ski resorts, Wirth said. The Steamboat Ski Area is set to be open from about Nov. 26, 2008, to April 12, 2009. Most flights start in mid-December and stop in late March or early April. Only United has scheduled flights - three a day from Denver - for the full season.

Five commercial airlines will fly to YVRA next season: American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Northwest Airlines and United. Nonstop daily flights will arrive from Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and Denver. The Newark and New York City flights are Saturdays only.

In the past several months, one negative airline announcement has followed another. Continental plans to cut 3,000 jobs and reduce capacity by 11 percent, the Associated Press reported. United plans to cut up to 1,100 jobs and ground 70 airplanes. American plans to cut capacity 11 percent to 12 percent after summer and probably cut thousands of jobs, the AP reported.

Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of Steamboat's Chamber Resort Association, is involved with the Local Marketing District.

"I think we're all in agreement that the direction the ski area is contracting with the airlines is the right direction," Evans Hall said.

Those in the tourism field are watching airline and travel trends carefully, she said.

"We're really still a few months away, so it's hard to be able to project it in full, but what we're seeing in terms of airfare pricing is very concerning," Evans Hall said. Prices are up $180 to $200 on many round-trip flights, Wirth said.

Steamboat's negotiating team does have some influence over those costs, he said, and has tried to keep them reasonable. But Ski Corp. is focused on making sure the resort is accessible.

"We know people will want to come to Steamboat," Wirth said. "They want to come here; they want to reconnect with their families. We're going to make it easier than heck for them to come here."

- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

housepoor 6 years, 6 months ago

an extra $200 per person per flight? What's that a 35% - 40% increase? That will hurt the numbers. Is there a triple crown for hockey? maybe we can put up some temp outdoor rinks in Emerald Park until we build a 3 rink sports complex at Bob Adams field?

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hubiem 6 years, 6 months ago

if you've ever seen the chambers resort association presentation on tourism here in steamboat, you would know that the average family of four spends close to $10,000 for a week vacation here. so $200 per person is only about an 8% increase in the price of their vacation as a whole. airfare is a small portion of their vacation cost. people will still come, and if there are less seats available, maybe more of those seats will be full. then the local marketing district won't have to pay for as many empty seats.

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BoatMaster 6 years, 6 months ago

Currently it is real tough on the airlines to come here.

I flew in last week from Salt Lake with four people on the plane and it was returning with two.

The round trip flight had to have lost a lot of money.

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hubiem 6 years, 6 months ago

i don't know how much is for lodging, but over the years i've seen the chamber resort association put on their show about steamboat more times than i can count. they state all kinds of facts and statistics about the town, and that is one of their stats. a family of four, on the average, spends about $10,000 dollars on a one week vacation here.

they have been using that same number for several years now, so with inflation i would think the number is even higher. gas has been steadily going up. the price of lift tickets has as well, not to mention skis, boots, and all the equipment get more expensive each year as well. all i'm saying is $180 - $200 per person isn't really that much money in the big scheme of things.

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2007 6 years, 6 months ago

Although a family may spend a lot on a ski vacation, checking flight schedules is often the first step ( at least it always has been for my family). People have limited times to travel to avoid pulling kids out of school. If the flight cost is higher than for other areas or if there are no flight times to suit the days people can travel, they will go elsewhere. Don't forget that these airlines that are raising rates due to fuel are also charging for checked bags now. So if the cost is up $800 per family for fuel and another $200-300 for the bags and skis, and rather than a direct flight, a connection/changeover is required, it all adds up to looking at alternatives.
Also, the dollar is cheap for those living overseas, I would think that marketing efforts should be directed at getting more foreign travelers to Steamboat and cutting flights from international hubs is not the way to go.

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OnTheBusGus 6 years, 6 months ago

As far as lodging goes, most rentals for a group of four would start at around $200 a night for a 1 bedroom/studio condo on the mountain to $300 to $500 a night or more for a 2 bedroom condo, depending upon location and quality. Multiply that times 7 nights and that is a big chunk of change!

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