Yampa Valley Regional Airport weathers winter storm, flight cancellations

Winter weather, low visibility and operational issues resulted in cancellations at Yampa Valley Regional Airport last weekend. Airport Manager Kevin Booth, however, praised the airport’s irregular operations plan for reducing the impact on passengers.
Steamboat Pilot & Today file photo

While skiers and riders enjoyed a couple of feet of fresh powder over the weekend, Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Kevin Booth was dealing with a flurry of flight cancellations.

“Weather caused a couple of Southwest flights to cancel (on Sunday, Jan. 29), and there were some weather issues on Friday as well, where we ended up transporting people to hotels and things,” Booth said on Monday, Jan. 30. “It happens a handful of times each year, but I feel like we’re dealing with it a lot better this year than we have in the past.”

Over the weekend FlightAware reported more than 20 flight cancellations at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, but Booth credited airport staff for putting together an irregular operations plan — spearheaded by Assistant Airport Director Tinneal Gerber — that eased the impact on passengers.

“We’re just kind of executing a better plan,” Booth said. “I also think our shuttle buses have improved in that they were able to hire a little better this season, so they’re staffed a little bit better. They have more vehicles than they did in the past.”

Booth said that those shuttle services — including Steamboat Express, Ski Town Transportation and Storm Mountain Express — have also been looped into the airport’s communications, so they are able to jump in to help solve transportation issues more quickly.

Booth also said the majority of the canceled fights over the weekend were because of the weather, but that was not the case for one American Airlines plane that was slated to depart Sunday evening.

On Friday, Jan. 27, with visibility at a half-mile or less, FlightAware reported seven cancellations at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The weather was better Saturday, Jan. 28, when four flights were called off. The airport wrapped up the weekend with 12 canceled flights on Sunday, including one operational cancellation.

“It was partly weather, partly just some operational issues,” Booth said of the nixed flights. “We had a departure cancel. They were here, but they couldn’t leave because their crew timed out — not due to weather but for other reasons.”

Booth said that most of the passengers whose flights were canceled were taken to hotels until they could get on later flights. By mid-morning Monday, most of those passengers were en route to their destinations.

“We sent quite a few of them to Craig last night and also on Friday, so nobody had to stay in the terminal,” Booth said. “We had enough ground transportation to get that done and found enough rooms in Craig to get them all into a hotel room.”

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