Laura Jackson, senior director of research and market intelligence at Denver International Airport, speaks during the Navigator Awards luncheon Friday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Laura Jackson, senior director of research and market intelligence at Denver International Airport, speaks during the Navigator Awards luncheon Friday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

DIA executive: Ski towns like Steamboat play a role in attracting flights

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2012 Navigator Award recipients

Business of the Year: Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus, represented by CEO Peter Perhac, for its new 60,000-square-foot academic center.

Business Person of the Year: Karl Gills, board chairman and president of Colorado Senior Residences for the vision and perseverance he brought to the new Casey’s Pond Senior Living project under construction on Steamboat’s south side.

Sustainable Business of the Year: Steamboat PostNet store and owners Kathy and Terry Stokes for reducing energy consumption by 30 percent and serving as a community recycler of packing peanuts, among other things.

Young Professional of the Year: Stephany Swinford, of Ski Butlers, who has been active in the community during her first three years here.

Read more about this year's award recipients here.

— The executive overseeing the pursuit of new air service at Denver International Airport said Friday that even as the 11th busiest airport in the world looks forward to the beginning of direct United Airlines flights to Tokyo on March 31, it has its eyes on inaugurating service from Panama City, Panama. And it’s not unrealistic to think that flight to Denver could deliver ski vacationers from many other cities in Latin America.

“Panama City is our biggest target,” Laura Jackson, senior director of research and market intelligence at DIA told a large audience gathered for the 2012 Navigator business awards at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

Jackson said United’s involvement in the Star Alliance, along with U.S. Airways and participating airlines across the globe, is critical to DIA’s efforts to increase international travel. That’s because the Denver market doesn’t generate enough international travel to attract flights from foreign carriers. DIA saw 2 million international passengers last year, Jackson said.

So, just as the Tokyo flight makes sense because of convenient connections for U.S. travelers to Asian destination from Seoul to Taipei via Tokyo’s Narita International on ANA airlines, Panama City is well situated to collect and disperse travelers to and from Denver on Copa Airlines, Jackson said.

Copa’s hub in Panama City collects connecting passengers from Caribbean destinations as well as the countries of Columbia, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, among others, with the potential to funnel skiers into DIA.

“What you have to offer here plays a critical role in the success of international flights,” Jackson said.

She explained that the first quarter of the year is soft for most major airports in the U.S., and Colorado ski resorts give DIA an advantage that boosts its traffic in January, February and March even though Denver is just the 18th largest city in the country.

Jackson said the new direct flights to Iceland from DIA have been successful enough since May that Icelandair is ready to boost the frequency to six days a week in the summer of 2012. Travelers from the U.S. are using that flight to connect to European cities like Milan and Amsterdam as well as visiting Iceland itself. The number of passengers departing Denver for Iceland has grown from about 700 annually before the flights began to 4,000 this year, she said.

A South American city on DIA’s radar, Jackson said, is Lima, Peru. And the airport also is taking a close look at Auckland, New Zealand, which would be on the outside edge of the range of United’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Chamber maps goals for 2013

Incoming Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Board President Mark Walker told the gathering that his fellow board members have ambitious goals for the coming year after an Oct. 18 retreat with Chamber staff members.

One of their biggest initiatives will be conceiving a “bigger and better” tourism event for Labor Day weekend, Walker said. At the same time, the board wants to work with independent event organizers to spread some of the existing events across the summer calendar with the expectation of increasing their economic impact.

Walker, vice president of Resort Group, takes over from outgoing Chamber President Rex Brice, of Steamboat Restaurant Group.

Walker said the Chamber board remains determined to identify a new, sustainable revenue stream to support summer marketing efforts.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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