Passengers unload from a United Airlines plane at Yampa Valley Regional Airport during the holiday season. The program that attracts flights to Yampa Valley Regional Airport is projected to be about $1 million under its cap of $4.78 million for revenue guarantees.

Photo by Scott Franz

Passengers unload from a United Airlines plane at Yampa Valley Regional Airport during the holiday season. The program that attracts flights to Yampa Valley Regional Airport is projected to be about $1 million under its cap of $4.78 million for revenue guarantees.

Winter airline program projected to be $1 million under cap

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— With information available for about half of the ski season, the program that attracts flights to Yampa Valley Regional Airport is projected to be about $1 million under its cap of $4.78 million for revenue guarantees.

That estimate still could swing a couple hundred thousand dollars, depending on numbers for February and March.

While national weather trends hurt the number of passengers flying in Yampa Valley Regional Airport earlier this winter, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Airline Program Director Janet Fischer said, average fares were up, following national trends in leisure market air travel.

Fischer reported to the local marketing district board Friday that actual numbers for February should be available by the end of the month, but the number of seats coming into YVRA currently is forecast to be down 3 percent for the total winter compared to last year while the number of passengers is projected to be down 2 percent.

The difference between the two numbers is attributable to better load factors for the flights that are making it into YVRA.

At the beginning of the ski season, the number of total available seats was projected to be about flat compared to last year, but a number of pre-cancellations and cancellation of big flights (six from Chicago, three from Atlanta and a couple from Dallas and Houston) hurt the total.

“That definitely dips into our capacity,” Fischer said.

The final winter air season flight is from Denver on April 13.

Alaska Airlines’ new service from Seattle has performed well in its first year, with three round-trip flights to go in March.

“The new Alaska Airlines flight has not had a cancellation, diversion or significant delay all season,” Fischer said.

There is interest on both sides about expanding the program with Alaska Airlines, she added.

In the next four weeks, she said, they will meet with airline partners. The hope is to grow the Los Angeles flight program and expand Saturday capacity from nonstop markets.

Funding for the airline program must be used in a specific order. Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. supplies the first and last sources. If the program comes in under its cap, the savings first would be applied to more than $700,000 that Ski Corp. committed to backstop the program with the chance for additional savings to be applied to the local marketing district’s reserves.

The LMD board earlier committed some reserves to securing a Houston flight this summer.

Mike Mooney, of Sixel Consulting Group, presented the results of his firm’s report, which he has done before other groups.

It’s a seller's market for network jets that link airports such as YVRA to larger hubs, Mooney said, and network carriers have figured that out.

“There is an expectation that airlines’ risk will be mitigated until the route proves itself,” he said.

After Mooney’s presentation, Scott Bideau, a location-neutral business executive in Steamboat, asked Mooney what next step he could suggest for YVRA.

Mooney suggested applying for a Small Community Air Service Development Grant, which Routt County previously applied for and won for fall air service from Salt Lake City.

The grant can be applied for again but not for the same project, Mooney said, making the narrow focus of the previous grant a boon to any future efforts to apply it toward summer service.

Bideau also addressed the LMD board during general public comment about transparency, community outreach and providing more information.

The campaign for the additional 0.25 percent sales tax for winter air service made promises, Bideau said, and he’d like to see more about what the board plans to do to stabilize the program and its plans for after the tax sunsets.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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Comments

scott bideau 6 months, 1 week ago

Unfortunately the LMD doesn't publish actual totals. But based on 2011/12 actuals of ~125,000, the reported decrease of 13% that next season (2012/13), and the 3% decrease referenced above for this season (2013/14), we're at ~105,000 available seats. That's pretty close to the ~90,000 number that the Yes 2 Air campaign claimed would cost our economy tens of millions of dollars. Certainly closer than the ~140,000 number they promised to be at by this season.

The Yes 2 Air campaign made a promise to the voters that is not being met. Locals pay about 50% of sale tax, so we've spent ~$1.2m in just over two years to not even maintain the status quo we had before the tax hike. Yes this is a complex issue, but the campaigners made it out to be a "sure thing" and never mentioned any caveats - so it's time to deliver.

And yes the LMD inherited some expectations they didn't set. But it's past time for them to come up with a plan that goes beyond a single year and shows the voters how the program can be stabilized to function on it's own when the sales tax expires.

3

Scott Wedel 6 months, 1 week ago

If the program comes in under its cap, the savings first would be applied to more than $700,000 that Ski Corp. committed to backstop the program with the chance for additional savings to be applied to the local marketing district’s reserves.


So with Ski Corps primarily managing the program, it happens to come in $1M plus/minus a couple hundred thousand under the cap. Therefore, Ski Corps gets their $700K back and maybe the public gets some added into reserves? What a deal for Ski Corps. Curious concept of "partnership" - Ski Corps gets their money back before the public.

1

Michael Bird 6 months, 1 week ago

So again (and again) we pay for air taffic whose fares are not reduced for the locals who pay for this service. Emptyy seats equal ZERO revenue but reduced fare seats would reduce our burden and could eliminate any deficiency. It still is a scam. No empty seat should ever go unsold. Ever !!! $50.00 r/t tickets are better than zero. So when are we going to benefit from our donations to Intrawest ?.

1

John Weibel 6 months, 1 week ago

Just like in Robin Hood, the tax man, the sheriff, imposed lots of taxes on the people and until Robin Hood stood up to the unjust taxation and returned it to taxpayers, the recipients of tax funds did well.

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