Direct flights from Houston this summer priced just over $500 |

Direct flights from Houston this summer priced just over $500

Tom Ross

— United Airlines service from Hayden to Denver has dropped from the five roundtrips per day that prevailed during ski season to a single daily flight. The number of flights isn’t scheduled to bump up to two daily roundtrips until June 5.

The daily trip from Denver to Hayden is scheduled to leave Denver International Airport at 7:40 p.m., arriving in the Yampa Valley at 8:32 p.m. The 71-passenger Bombardier Q400 turboprop will stay on the tarmac overnight to allow it to depart at 8 a.m. the next day. That will be the schedule until June 5, when the flight from Hayden to Denver will be scheduled to leave at 6:10 a.m., arriving at DIA by 7:04 a.m. That should provide time for travelers destined for cities beyond Denver to catch an early bank of flights.

The Yampa Valley’s new direct flight to Houston begins service June 26 with four weekly flights on a 50-passenger Embraer ERJ 145.

The summer Houston flight will overnight at YVRA before returning to Houston in the morning and only operates four times per week, June 26 to Sept. 1, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Airline Program Director Janet Fischer wrote in an email Friday.

Travelers booking flights at United’s website will need to take note of the available dates for each leg of the flight.

The flight operates from Houston to YVRA on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays (except for June 29 and Aug. 18, 21, 25 and 28).

The return flight from YVRA to Houston operates Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays (except June 30, Aug. 19, 22, 26 and 29).

A search on Friday for the direct flight to the Yampa Valley, leaving Houston (IAH) at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, July 17, and returning Tuesday July 22, produced a roundtrip fare of $505. That was $11 less than flights on the same days connecting through Denver.

The number of Steamboat/Denver roundtrips increases to three on July 2, all on the Q400. Service will remain at that level until Aug. 18, when it will revert to two daily flights through Nov. 25 and the beginning of ski season 2014-15.

A year ago, United Express trimmed the number of spring flights to and from Denver to a single roundtrip from the two that the Yampa Valley had enjoyed in 2012. YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel reported in June 2013 that as a result, his airport saw 3,500 fewer passengers last spring.

In April 2013, there were 94 air carrier operations compared to 160 the previous year, and in May 2013, the number of operations by commercial aircraft dropped from 128 in 2012 to 68.

In other airport news, Ruppel told the Yampa Valley Airport Commission on Thursday that the bid opening for major runway improvements to be undertaken this year and next will take place Wednesday.

The original plan entailed closing the runway for 60 days this spring, but federal funding was held up last year, and the timetable has changed. The closure will not take place until mid-April 2015, Ruppel wrote in a report to the commission. However, airport officials will take advantage of the two-year construction timetable by beginning some of the less intrusive work that won’t close the runway this summer.

Ruppel wrote he expects to have funding and construction contracts in place in time to begin taxiway work and apron rehabilitation in July.

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

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