Steamboat Springs Yampa Valley Regional Airport officials have confirmed that 1,123 passengers booked seats on the first 30 legs of United Airline’s summer service June 26 through July 22, on a 50-passenger regional jet between Houston and Hayden/Steamboat.
The flights represent 15 roundtrips on the flight that operates four times per week with the aircraft arriving Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights. The jet spends the night on the runway apron before returning to Houston the next morning.
Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said the numbers reported by the airport may not be exact. They do not reflect people who may not have boarded the flight. However, if they are accurate, the flights would have been 74.9 percent full in aggregate.
As Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rob Perlman last week told the board of the Local Marketing District which oversees the flights, the flights leaving YVRA for Houston are in more demand than are the flights that originate in Houston. But the margin of difference is modest. The number of passengers booking flights to YVRA from Houston was 541 and the number headed in the other direction was 582.
Interpreting those figures is complicated by the fact that a number of those passengers may have opted to fly one leg by connecting with another flight in Denver in order to fly on their preferred day of the week.
Only three of the flights through July 22 were booked to capacity with 50 passengers, but a total of 15 were scheduled to carry 40 or more passengers. The most lightly booked flight was the one that arrived at YVRA from Houston on July 5 with 14 passengers expected to board. That trend continued the following two days, with 20 passengers July 6 and 21 on July 7.
The Houston flights continue through Sept. 1, though the weekday flights are suspended Aug. 18 to 29, while weekend flights continue to operate.
After the 2012-13 ski season flight program turned in a strong economic performance, the LMD Board, sensitive to community interest in year-round flight service, decided to commit a portion of funds being carried over into the next funding cycle to contract for a flight outside the winter resort season. Direct summer flights from Houston serve the dual purpose of tapping into one of Steamboat’s most consistent summer markets while providing local travelers direct access to a major United Airlines hub.
Houston offers connections to 60 domestic cities and a dozen international destinations.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1