Relatively few problems at YVRA

The big rush to fly home from the holidays begins Thursday

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The only snafus at Yampa Valley Regional Airport during the Christmas weekend were attributed to backups at Eagle County and Aspen-Pitkin County airports.

YVRA, the airport that serves Northwest Colorado, and most of its passengers seemed relatively immune from the holiday travel nightmares that stranded thousands in the East during the weekend.

YVRA official Ann Copeland said the only slowdown in flights during the last three days came about when the Denver flight control center instructed pilots ready to taxi for takeoff from YVRA to wait. They were put on hold while traffic in the Vail and Aspen areas cleared.

"We share the same airspace with Eagle and Aspen," Copeland said.

She is manager of landside and terminal operations for the airport east of Hayden, which serves the Steamboat resort area.

Copeland said arriving planes would average 99 percent capacity through today. Then, after a brief lull Wednesday, traffic will build as people head home from their ski vacations.

A number of departing flights Friday through Sunday are overbooked at 102 percent to 103 percent capacity, Copeland said.

"Thank gosh things went smoothly last weekend," Copeland said. "I'm hoping it's like that this weekend, but it doesn't look like it will be."

She was referring to long-range weather reports that indicate there will be a chance of snow in the valley beginning today and continuing through Sunday.

Copeland and Janet Fischer, director of airline programs for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said the winter storm that slammed the Ohio Valley did not seem to have a major effect on holiday travelers destined for the Yampa Valley. The second operation of Delta Airline's inaugural service between Cincinnati, Ohio, and YVRA, arrived just a little late Saturday, and after remaining at the airport overnight as scheduled, took off for Ohio on Sunday morning.

"We did have some baggage issues (for Cincinnati passengers), but I think they've got that sorted out," Copeland said.

Fischer said it's difficult to say whether passengers who might have been on the Cincinnati flight didn't make it because they missed connections.

"I think overall, we're having a good week turning our planes over out there," Fischer said.

Passengers flying into Steamboat on United Airlines from Denver could have been affected if they were flying US Airways from Cincinnati to DIA under the code-sharing agreement observed by both airlines. US Airways experienced a work slowdown during the weekend, but Fischer said Steamboat's Central Reservations was aware of just one party bound for Steamboat via US Airways who gave up and canceled its vacation.

Fischer said United and Delta are among the airlines that have added flights to help travelers get to Steamboat for holiday ski vacations. Delta typically flies a 183-passenger Boeing 757 to YVRA from Atlanta once a week on Saturdays.

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