Steamboat Ski Area unveils new ski season flights from Austin, Kansas City | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Ski Area unveils new ski season flights from Austin, Kansas City

Steamboat's ski season airline program is poised to tap into two new markets known as desirable destinations for lovers of barbecue and music.

The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. announced July 26 that inaugural flights from Austin, Texas, and Kansas City, Missouri, to Yampa Valley Regional Airport will begin Dec. 13 and continue through April.

The flights will be on 50-passenger jets flown by ViaAir and are set to run Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Both cities are attractive destinations.

Austin has the South by Southwest festival and pit master Aaron Franklin at Franklin’s Barbecue. And K.C., has Joe's K.C. BBQ in a gas station, coupled with a tradition of blues influenced jazz in the vein of Count Basie.

But Steamboat has the powder.

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It's also apparent the new flights from Austin are being counted on to deliver more fans of Texas Americana  music here for the Steamboat Music Fest, with additional flights Jan. 2,4 and 9.

Dickson Productions, which has produced the longstanding Steamboat Music Fest, is based in Austin, and Rod Hanna, a member of the Local Marketing District that oversees the airline program for Steamboat Springs, said he bumped into Dickson at a golf event in Steamboat this month, and the festival producer was thrilled with the new flights.

Maitland, Florida-based ViaAir will fly 50-passenger Embraer ERJ-145s on the Steamboat routes, and Embark Aviation will manage the "commercial elements," of the new flight program, according to a news release. Visit steamboat.com for information about introductory fares.

ViaAir flies to 13 U.S. destination, and Steamboat will be the airline's first nonstop ski destination.

Hanna said a significant motivation for taking on the new flights, which require minimum revenue guarantees, is to offset what would have been a loss of about 3,000 seats from Dallas this winter after American Airlines offered aircraft configured with fewer seats.

"Austin is a great market for us," Hanna said, "and the great part about this is that we're not increasing our (total) revenue guarantees, or if we are, hardly at all," as a result of adding Austin and Kansas City.

"We're excited about it," Hanna added, "For this winter, it's 15 cities with nonstops to Steamboat. That's huge."

Hanna said that, in the past, Kansas City has been a drive-to market to Steamboat.

The ski area news release also described ViaAir, founded in 1997, as the first airline "to be certified in the FAA's Part 5 Safety Management System, ensuring the highest level of safety in the aviation industry."

Steamboat Today has learned that ViaAir has been flying to the classic country music/golf and theme park destination of Branson, Missouri, this summer from Denver, Houston, Austin, Dallas and Chicago.

The Branson Tri-Lakes News reported July 25 that the flights began May 25 and were initially scheduled through the Labor Day weekend, but have since been extended through Dec. 11. The newspaper in Branson also reported that the community's airport manager said customers of the flights were appreciative of the low ticket prices.

The web page of ViaAir's parent company, Via Airlines, indicates that charter flights are a big part of its business, both shuttling business executives in smaller aircraft and flying the public on sports and casino charters. The company owns 30 airplanes, including the Citation Excel executive jet with a capacity of eight and  the Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia turboprop.

ViaAir's Facebook page reflects that it took delivery of the first two of nine ERJ-145's in July and August 2015, to enhance its focus on flying collegiate sports teams.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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