Steamboat’s winter 2017-2018 airline schedule due for release
All 12 of the nonstop airline flights that operated into Yampa Valley Regional Airport during ski season 2016-17 have been being loaded onto travel websites since April 22, and the full schedule is to be made public the week of July 24 through 28. However, the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. and the Local Marketing District may not be done with the work of broadening Steamboat’s ski season air service.
Ski Corp. Airline Director Janet Fischer told members of the marketing district board July 21 she is, “still working through some potential changes” to the schedule. Asked if those changes could potentially involve expanded service for the Steamboat program, Fischer turned and looked at Steamboat President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Perlman, who confirmed that is a possibility.
It isn’t clear, however, if that implies increased frequency from one of the cities of origin that were served last winter or a new market.
On Dec. 26, the schedule of arriving flights at Yampa Valley Regional Airport included two flights from Chicago on competing airlines, flights from Newark and Washington D.C., Atlanta, two from Dallas, San Diego, two from Houston and single daily flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis.
Pending any changes, Fischer confirmed that, as it stands, the number of inbound seats for ski season 2017-18 is virtually the same as the winter of 2016-17: 113,000. A number of the coming season’s direct flights will operate initial service Dec. 13 through 15, with a few kicking in a few days later.
Regarding ski season service from Denver, Fisher said there is encouraging news from United Airlines, with the caveat that schedule and equipment can change at any time.
“For right now, the plus is that we have three daily flights from Denver for the whole season,” Fischer said. “Last year, January and part of February were (trimmed) from three daily roundtrips to two. However, in exchange for the three daily flights to Denver International Airport and back throughout the winter, those flights are currently scheduled to be operated using 50-seat aircraft instead of the mix of 50-, 70- and 76- passenger aircraft in 2016-17.
Steamboat secures its ski season airline service by providing the airlines with minimum revenue guarantees that are capped at an aggregate that is typically somewhere between $4.5 million and $5.5 million. The price of jet fuel and the costs of adding new cities of origin to the program are major contributors to the financial performance of the airline program.
However, the relatively strong performance of the flights in terms of total yield typically winds up with the local program funded by lodging taxes and $1.1 million from Ski Corp., which typically owes far less than the cap. Fischer told the LMD board in May that the 2016-17 cost was $3.67 million against a cap of $5.7 million.
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