Funding for direct summer Houston flight the first casualty of 2A not passing | SteamboatToday.com

Funding for direct summer Houston flight the first casualty of 2A not passing

JetBlue has announced it will fly passengers to Yampa Valley Regional Airport west of Steamboat Springs from Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Long Beach, California, on 150-passenger A320 aircraft during the 2018-19 ski season.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The impacts of Steamboat Springs voters not approving the 2A tax to support the air program could be felt as soon as next summer.

The air program money is managed by the Local Marketing District board.

They met Friday, and after meeting in executive session, board members voted to not subsidize a direct flight that flies during the summer between Houston and Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden.

"We're gonna have some hard decisions to make,” board chairman Bob Milne said. “This is a big deal, and it will impact some of the decisions that we have to make as an LMD board, and I think our job just got more difficult."

It will be up to United Airlines whether they want to continue offering the direct flight.

The LMD wanted voters to renew a 0.2 percent sales tax that would have generated $1.3 million annually, which the board was depending on to help support the future of the air program.

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The tax was voted down.

“We recognize the funding and the future of the program — as we planned it — was really contingent on this going forward,” Milne said.

If the tax would have passed, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. would have increased its annual contribution to the airline program by 45 percent from $1.1 million to $1.6 million.

A 2 percent lodging tax will continue to support the air program.

The LMD board asked Ski Corp. to return during the January meeting with recommendations for the future of the air program next winter.

The air program has funding for this winter, and Yampa Valley Regional Airport Director Kevin Booth reported to the board that the airport was ready for winter operations, which kick off Dec. 15 with three new flights operated by Jet Blue.

The airport this summer did work to add additional parking spots for planes.

"Against the odds, we finished our construction project," Booth said.

The LMD board was also briefed by Janet Fischer, who is the airline director for Ski Corp. She explained how the LMD is using $300,000 in marketing dollars.

"We just started a big air campaign yesterday," Fischer said.

A sale on airline tickets will go through the end of the month. In addition to cheaper fares, people can receive 20 percent off lift tickets and lodging. For each airline ticket purchased, people will receive a $100 credit at the resort.

Marketing is being done by email, mailers, ad time on television and advertising on planes and in airports.

"November is our really big month to really be pushing the air message," Fischer said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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