Snowstorm leads to 1 flight cancellation at Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Sunday | SteamboatToday.com

Snowstorm leads to 1 flight cancellation at Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Sunday

— The dense snowstorm that dominated the valley Sunday resulted in the cancellation of a United Airlines flight from Houston to Yampa Valley Regional Airport before it ever took off, but 13 other flights arrived and took off for their return flights. That included an American Airlines 76-passenger regional jet from Chicago that made an unscheduled stop in Denver before coming to Hayden.

This past Saturday and Sunday represented the first big weekend of the ski season flight program with more than 2,600 travelers booked to arrive at the airport in Hayden.

Saturday's flights were booked at 93 percent capacity with 1,603 passengers expected. Sunday's flights were 92 percent full with 1,016 expected to arrive. Conditions at the airport Monday were good with 843 arriving passengers expected.

The weather forecast for Sunday called for a 90 percent chance of snow and gusty winds aloft, but Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. airline manager Janet Fischer confirmed that all but the one flight from Houston was operated successfully.

The American Airlines flight from Chicago diverted to Denver because of weather at the Hayden airport, deplaned, de-iced, then re-boarded passengers, left Denver and arrived into Hayden about two hours late, Fischer said. The plane turned around and departed for Chicago.

Sunday flights from Atlanta and Minneapolis operated by Delta Airlines actually arrived 21 minutes early and nine minutes early, respectively, and left early on the return flights, as well. However, the Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle was estimated to be almost four hours late both arriving and departing the Yampa Valley. Those delays were attributed to the aircraft arriving late in Seattle for the trip to Steamboat.

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Fischer said all four United Express roundtrips between Denver and YVRA operated Sunday, though the emailed flight update showed the first flight of the day was about 70 minutes late because of the weather.

As is typical for this time of year, when the ski season flight program is in its first week, planes leaving YVRA carry far fewer passengers than arriving flights. In the inaugural week of flights, there are very few passengers returning from winter vacations. Hence, there were just 255 departing passengers booked Sunday.

With Christmas falling on a Thursday this week, the holiday schedule falls nicely into Steamboat's scheduling practice of concentrating capacity at times of peak demand Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Holiday travelers typically prefer to remain at home through Dec. 25, then fly off on vacation, so Friday, Saturday and Sunday promise to be very busy days at YVRA.

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