Council backs YVRA flights

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Sandy Evans-Hall, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, asked the council to kick in $5,000 toward an estimated $250,000 needed to ensure that jet service continues into the Yampa Valley Regional Airport through the summer.

"It's not just serving tourists; it's the people living and working in the Yampa Valley being able to come and go," Evans-Hall said.

The city agreed to contribute $2,500 from the $14,000 that remains in the council's $25,000 contingency fund.

The money will be used to pay for unfilled seats on Continental Airlines flights from Houston. Continental will sponsor the flights into the Hayden airport if a certain number of seats can be guaranteed. Should those seats be filled with paying customers, contributions will be refunded on a pro-rated basis.

That's something that passenger numbers indicate could happen. "The demand could be there when you look at the growth in our valley," Evans-Hall said.

In 1993, there were 42,600 available seats into Yampa Valley Regional Airport and 26,500 were filled. The number of seats flying into YVRA in 2003 fell to 20,000 -- 14,000 of which were filled.

"We really feel access to Northwest Colorado on a competitive basis is important to all of us. It's important to businesses as well as to tourism," Evans-Hall said.

Councilor Don Jones voted against contributing because it was an unbudgeted expense.

"We cut the city's budget to make ends meet and I really have a hard time with this," he said.

"It really would've been nice if you'd have come to us during our budget process. If sales tax were up the first three months of the year, it might be a different story."

Evans-Hall said $45,000 of the funds raised would be used for marketing -- a portion of that on directly marketing Moffat County.

There was an attempt to extend the service through the fall, but that would've cost an additional $250,000.

Evans-Hall said there is a group working to get a Small Rural Air Service grant to pay for that subsidy.

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