Steamboat’s ski season airline capacity grows 13 percent with expanded service on existing routes | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s ski season airline capacity grows 13 percent with expanded service on existing routes

Passengers disembark at Yampa Valley Regional Airport from an American Airlines jet from Chicago in December 2014.

— Yampa Valley Regional Airport, serving Steamboat Springs and Craig, will see increases in inbound capacity from six of 11 cities already served by ski season flights during the winter of 2015/2016.

Notable on the schedule just released by the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. is the decision to boost service between the YVRA and Los Angeles to daily fights. And last winter's inaugural Saturday flights from Newark and Washington/Dulles will add Sunday flights for most of ski season (excluding Jan. 9 to Feb. 6 when there will be Saturday flights only).

In addition, Alaska Airlines will expand its Seattle flights to four days per week with a new Tuesday departure.

Chuck Porter, chairman of the local marketing district, which oversees the flight program on behalf of the public, said the increases in service are part of an ongoing effort to match available airline seats to periods of highest demand, not only for days of the week, but also during key periods of the ski season.

"That's the tricky part, matching capacity with demand," Porter said.

For example, the longstanding daily service from Minneapolis/St. Paul on Delta Connection will be augmented this winter by an additional Saturday night arrival that will return to the Twin Cites on Sunday mornings Feb. 13 to March 27.

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Service from Los Angeles began with flights on Saturdays and Sundays in the winter of 2012/2013, with Thursday service added in 2013/2014. Mondays were added to the schedule in 2014/2015, and now, demand is sufficient to warrant daily flights.

"By increasing to daily flights from Los Angeles, we are providing better access to great snow for Southern California and some of the best travel options for international guests, especially Australians, to ski and snowboard in the mountains of Colorado," Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Perlman was quoted saying in a press release.

The complete winter airline schedule may be found on the ski area's Web page under the link to media/press releases.

United Airlines — with increased seats on four routes, including daily service form Chicago (as well as the increased service from Newark, Washington-Dulles and Los Angeles) — will fly into YVRA with the most frequency this winter.

Ski Corp. negotiates contracts with the airlines, which include capped minimum revenue guarantees and reports to the LMD about planned service and financial performance. Because both public lodging taxes and general sales tax funds are used to help secure the service, the LMD, in turn, reports to Steamboat Springs City Council.

The Ski Corp. reported this week that the increased capacity for the upcoming ski season represents nearly a 13 percent increase over the winter of 2014/2015, marking the second winter in a row ski season flight capacity has grown.

Ski Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said Friday that the increase in inbound airline capacity for the winter of 2015/2016 will be nearly 15,000 additional seats. An air program official reported in June that available inbound seats during the winter of 2014/2015 were about 108,400.

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