Lower fuel costs mitigating expense of ski season flight program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport | SteamboatToday.com

Lower fuel costs mitigating expense of ski season flight program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport

YVRA runway to close late on April 14 until morning of June 15

Yampa Valley Regional Airport will be closed for major runway rehabilitation and expansion beginning at 10 p.m. April 14 and continuing until 7 a.m. June 15, when the airport will be open for flights again. The work is required by the Federal Aviation Administration, and without an alternative runway, the airport will be closed for those 60 days.

The timing of the runway re-paving expansion of shoulders is intended to coincide with the end of ski season and one of the least busy periods at the commercial airport in Hayden, which serves Steamboat Springs and the rest of Northwest Colorado.

Airport Manager Kevin Booth said Friday after a pre-construction meeting Thursday with the contractors when they walked the site, he is confident the work will begin on time and they will complete the project within the 60-day period.

— Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. airline program managers said Friday that based on preliminary figures they expect the 2014-15 ski season flight service to cost less than it did for the winter of 2013-14.

“It’s good news,” Ski Corp. Airline Program Director Janet Fischer told the board of the Local Marketing District. “We’ve got revenue up and costs down. It definitely creates a scenario where it’s working well for us on the costs of our minimum revenue guarantees,” which are promised to the four different airlines to entice them to fly here.

The Fly Steamboat Program paid $2.94 million last year to the airlines against a maximum cap of $4.78 million, allowing the program to carry the difference forward to this year’s program, which has revenue guarantees capped at about $4.5 million.

March airline figures are not available, but Fischer was confident enough to predict that reduced fuel prices paid by the airlines along with an increase in the average fares into Yampa Valley Regional Airport would result in a lower airline bill this spring.

“The fuel costs are down considerably and that brings our costs down,” Fischer said. “Our (minimum revenue guarantees) with all four airlines are all different but the costs go up and down with fuel costs and all are considerably below,” what was anticipated.

The cost of the airline program is spread among the Ski Corp. (the first $1.11 million), a dedicated lodging tax and a .25 percent general sales tax along with a modest contribution from other local businesses participating in the Fly Steamboat program.

In response to a question from LMD Chairman Chuck Porter, Ski Corp. Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rob Perlman said low snowfall totals this winter had not reduced the number of passengers arriving at the airport this winter.

Fischer elaborated, saying the overall number of passengers will be higher than in the winter of 2013-14, although with more arriving seats, load factors will be about the same.

Based on enplanement figures (the number of people boarding planes at YVRA and the numbers tracked by the Ski Corp.) provided by Routt County, December 2013 through Feb. 2014 saw 46,918 departing passengers at the airport. That compares to 52,664 enplanements for the corresponding three-month period from December 2014 through February 2015.

Perlman said that although passenger numbers on the direct flights from Los Angeles improved this winter and Seattle “did very well, we struggled a little bit with the (new) San Francisco flight.”

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

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