Steamboat Springs lands new nonstop summer air service from Houston | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs lands new nonstop summer air service from Houston

DeAnna Roberts unloads a bag from a United Airlines flight at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The airport will have new nonstop jet service from Houston this summer.

— Texans who want a reprieve from blistering heat and sticky humidity this summer now should find it easier to make a getaway to the Yampa Valley.

And business travelers here again will have another major airport to fly to from Hayden outside of ski season.

Starting June 26, Yampa Valley Regional Airport will have nonstop summer air service to and from Houston.

United Express will offer the four flights each week on a 50-seat regional jet through Sept. 1.

The service will have connections to and from 60 domestic cities and 12 international destinations.

"We thought that Houston, with all its connections both nationally and internationally, would be a good connection point for us as an alternative to Denver," Chuck Porter, the head of the Local Marketing District that is financially backing the flights, said Friday. "Texas is a good summer market, as well. We're excited about it."

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The new flights were made possible by the strength of the reserves of the Local Marketing District and are backed by a minimum revenue guarantee.

Because of a combination of the reserve and the winter air program's performance last year, the board had about $250,000 to consider spending on summer air service this year.

Flights will be open for booking starting Saturday.

Porter said the idea of improving the summer air service into the Yampa Valley can't be a one-summer project and will take some more time.

"We should go into it with a longer time horizon," he said. "It can take more than one season to start building up consistency in the marketplace. It's going to depend on funding, of course, but I would like to see it as moving forward to build up that market."

The United Express service in and out of Houston was one of several options the Local Marketing District considered for the summer schedule.

Some other options couldn't come online until 2015, and equipment was a factor in the discussions with some of the other airlines.

The addition of the Houston flights marks the return of a summer air schedule in Hayden that reaches beyond Denver International Airport.

From 2005 to 2007, Steamboat had 70 passenger jet flights to Salt Lake City under Delta Airlines.

And from 2004 to 2006, there was summer jet service to and from Houston under Continental Airlines that ended when the airline opted to send its jets to more lucrative markets.

The former Houston service carried 3,013 arriving passengers in its inaugural summer and improved in later seasons.

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern said Friday the new United Express flights are a good start to providing more summer flight options.

The most recent summer intercept survey of visitors confirms that though the Front Range remains the largest summer market, Texas remains one of the biggest out-of-state markets.

"If there were places we were going to go with air service from a visitor standpoint, Texas is certainly one of the strongest markets to look at," Kern said. "If you've ever been in Houston in the summertime, the idea of catching a direct flight to Steamboat probably would be a pretty nice change of pace for a while."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Summer YVRA flights

Houston to YVRA: Departs at 7:34 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays

YVRA to Houston: Departs at 11:25 a.m. on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays

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