Resort official: Flights leaving for Houston carry more passengers than the flights arriving from Texas

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— The direct flight between Houston and Hayden/Steamboat is roughly halfway through its eight-week summer run, and resort officials here are noticing that flights leaving Yampa Valley Regional Airport for Texas are busier than the arriving flights.

“The flight is performing at expectations. The route has a better load factor coming out of Hayden to Houston than Houston coming in,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rob Perlman told the members of the Local Marketing District Board on Friday. “I think that’s a result of local traffic from location-neutral (workers) using it for business travel, or families in the community traveling outside.”

After the 2012-13 ski season flight program turned in a strong economic performance, the LMD Board, sensitive to community interest in year-round flight service, decided to commit a portion of funds being carried over into the next funding cycle to contract for a flight outside the winter resort season. Direct summer flights from Houston serve the dual purpose of tapping into one of Steamboat’s most consistent summer markets while providing local travelers direct access to a major United Airlines hub.

Houston offers connections to 60 domestic cities and a dozen international destinations.

The service from Houston began June 26 and continues through Sept. 1, with some weekday blackouts during the last two weeks of August.

LMD board member Chuck Porter said he has been tracking the Houston flight’s performance indirectly through the online booking Web page.

The flight was full Monday morning and almost full Tuesday. Perlman declined to provide specific passenger numbers.

However, a search of a flight on the 50-passenger Embraer RJ145 leaving Houston for Hayden/Steamboat on Aug. 7 and returning Aug. 12 confirmed the majority of the seats are sold. United quoted a low fare of $575 for the round-trip flight operated by Expressjet.

On the 5:45 p.m. flight to YVRA, there were six economy-plus seats and nine United economy seats left unsold as of Tuesday. The aircraft was a little tighter on the return flight leaving at 7:20 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. Forty seats already were sold as of Tuesday afternoon, and all of the economy-plus seats near the front of the plane were taken.

The flights between Houston and the Yampa Valley are not daily, but there are four round-trips per week. The aircraft remain on the apron overnight to allow for an early departure the next morning. As a result, flights from Houston to YVRA operate Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Thursday. The return flights operate Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday only.

Additionally, the weekday flights are suspended Aug. 18 to 29, while weekend flights continue to operate.

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

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