Frontier leaves Steamboat off new flights list
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs is not one of eight new destinations for Frontier Airlines’ regional subsidiary, Lynx Aviation.
Frontier officials announced the new destinations during a Thursday news conference at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The eight new cities to be serviced by regional Frontier flights on the Bombardier Q400 turboprop are Aspen; Colorado Springs; Grand Junction; Durango; Bozeman, Mont.; Missoula, Mont.; Fargo, N.D.; and Jackson Hole, Wyo. Most of the new flights begin in mid-May.
Steamboat/Hayden and Eagle Valley/Vail airports were noticeably absent from Frontier’s announcement Thursday.
Intrawest and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. marketing executive Andy Wirth said the last contact between the airline and Steamboat business leaders was in early January. Since then, he said, the focus has been expanding the Yampa Valley’s all-jet service for spring, summer and fall on United and Delta airlines.
Wirth announced in December that United Express service to Denver this spring, summer and fall would drop the familiar Dash-8 turboprops and shift entirely to small jets. He said with this week’s confirmation of two daily jet flights on Delta Express to Salt Lake City, the region can look forward to five daily jet flights outside of ski season for the first time.
“We’ve had open discussions, and I’m certain Frontier took this all into account,” Wirth said.
He is the executive vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer for Intrawest, as well as vice president of marketing for the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
Wirth said he anticipates Steamboat resort leaders will initiate discussions about Frontier air service again for the 2008-09 ski season. In the meantime, he said, members of the Local Marketing District, who make recommendations on how to allocate airline subsidies, are confident they’ve assembled the best spring and summer service Yampa Valley Regional Airport has ever had.
“In discussion with the Local Marketing District, it was our view collectively to focus on the two carriers that opened up the broadest service and, from a qualitative standpoint, move to all jets,” Wirth said.
He added that though financial subsidies for Frontier were not a direct consideration in negotiations, they were one element in the marketing district’s decision.
After the end of ski season, Wirth said, Yampa Valley Regional Airport will receive three United jets and a single Delta jet daily. By summer, the daily frequency to and from Salt Lake City will jump to two flights. United Express will operate the 70-passenger CR7 aircraft, and Delta is expected to operate a 50-passenger jet, Wirth said.
This spring’s service will increase available seats by 2,262, Wirth said. The number of summer seats in and out of YVRA will grow by just fewer than 3,000.
Local officials had been optimistic that Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley would be part of Frontier’s expansion. That optimism waned recently, particularly after Frontier’s fiscal report for the third quarter of 2007. The airline reported a net loss of $32.5 million, including $4.8 million in start-up costs, schedule readjustments and other losses for Lynx, and $3.5 million stemming from increased fuel costs.
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