Budget Rent A Car manager Audra Holmes talks to a customer on the phone Thursday at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Budget Rent A Car manager Audra Holmes talks to a customer on the phone Thursday at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Airport vendors report varying sales

Car rentals slow; restaurant owner reports good business

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— Yampa Valley Regional Airport's growing reserves have been a source of pride for Airport Manager Dave Ruppel.

The Hayden airport has been operating in the black the past two years, Ruppel said, meaning it has covered all of its own operating costs. Commercial flight loads have fluctuated this ski season; however, and it's unclear what kind of revenue will come in. Ruppel discussed the money situation last week.

"Parking is one of our larger sources of revenue, but probably our biggest one is our rental car concession" outside of airlines, he said.

That business has slowed, representatives from Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car said.

"I think the economy has something to do with it, actually," Budget Manager Audra Holmes said. "We do have a lot of people that do rent cars, of course. With the economy how it is, I don't think people are traveling as much."

Enplanements and deplanements are down 10 to 15 percent, Ruppel said. Some YVRA businesses have reflected that, he said.

"There's some of the concessionaires : December was very good for them," Ruppel said. "There's others that were down. I think rental cars are down; the gift shop was down a little bit. It's a little bit deceiving, because last year was an exceptional year, so when we're comparing to last year, it's almost not fair."

Lana and Brian McFadden took over the Hangar gift shop and the Hangar Express from Ben Gero this year. People are skiing and planes are flying, so Lana McFadden isn't concerned.

"It's a little slower than it has been over the past few years," she said. "But I'm not worried. I'm an American."

Trini Riley owns HDN Paradise Bar & Grill and the Hot Dog'n Paradise snack bar at YVRA. She's pleased with business.

"It's going awesome, actually," Riley said. "We've had a good year. It's been taking off real fast for us. The snow's helped a bunch."

Hot Dog'n Paradise got a design upgrade before the season. Riley added a bar counter and an eating area. Menu changes are coming, she said.

"At the end of January, the first of February : we're going to be adding beer and wine to our menu," Riley said.

The success of McFadden, Riley and others affects more than just the owners and YVRA. Hayden receives a significant portion of its sales tax from the airport, Town Manager Russ Martin said.

"It varies month to month, but it is under 50 percent, between 40 and 50 percent," Martin said. "It fluctuates. It's a large part of the money we get for sales tax. : That's everything airport - vending, fuel, car rentals - all those vendors are lumped in there."

He said the town would just have to see how things go at the airport. Galaxy Aviation, the fixed-base operator, reported its largest day ever for fuel sales in December. But the price of fuel has gone down, Martin said.

"We assume there's not as many people getting off airplanes," he said. The town will have to react accordingly when the figures come in, Martin said.

Visitor traffic is better than expected, Ruppel said.

"Now is traditionally a lull for us, and it's more of a lull than it normally is, I guess," he said. "But then the weekends pick up, and they look pretty good."

This weekend and Presidents Day weekend are solid, Ruppel said. People are booking two or three weeks ahead of time rather than months out, he said. That makes predictions difficult. Ruppel praised Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and the lodging community for pushing deals, discounts and promotions. Airfares also have dropped.

"Gosh, if you had any money right now, you'd be crazy not to come," Ruppel said.

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