Hayden airport replaces ground operator, completes Atlantic Aviation expansion ahead of busy winter flight season
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Less than a month before local flights ramp up for the winter season, a new ground service operator is set to replace SkyWest at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
The transition comes after SkyWest, one of two companies contracted to provide ground service at the airport in Hayden, announced it would be departing in December.
United Ground Express, a subsidiary of United Airlines, will handle the ground services for two of the airport’s five carriers — United and Alaska airlines — for the foreseeable future. G2 Secure Staff will continue to work with American Airlines and Jet Blue. G2 added Delta Air Lines to its roster, which previously was with SkyWest, amid the transition.
Airport manager Kevin Booth said it is not uncommon for airlines to contract with new ground operators based on bidding proposals, and vice versa.
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“When SkyWest announced to the three airlines that they were going to terminate their operations, each of those airlines typically puts out a request for proposals,” Booth explained.
A spokesperson with SkyWest Airlines said in September, when the company announced its departure from the airport, that it would work with current SkyWest employees to transfer to the new provider and arrange job interviews.
Booth said a “fairly large percentage” of employees should be able to transition to United Ground Express in December.
The busier winter flight schedule is set to begin in mid-December. Service will include nonstop flights to 14 cities, a slight decrease from the 15 locations offered last winter. The Local Marketing District board, which oversees the air program, announced an elimination of service to Long Beach this summer. The board has struggled to find ways to subsidize flights after Steamboat Springs voters struck down the 2A sales tax, which would have generated an estimated $1.3 million annually for the program.
Further changes to the flight schedule include double the number of flights to Fort Lauderdale this winter and increased capacity on flights to Chicago and Dallas, according to Booth. Overall, he expects the number of passengers and available seats to meet or exceed last winter’s numbers.
Booth said the schedule is updated periodically. For more information, visit yampavalleyregionalairport.com.
Bigger fixed-base operator opens for private flights
Those are not the only changes at the Hayden airport. Last week, Atlantic Aviation opened its new, larger fixed-base operator facility. The company provides airplane parking, hangars, fueling and travel planning to private customers at airports across the country.
Booth has estimated the new facility, which includes an expanded apron space to park airplanes, a new terminal and storage building, will bring in about $125,000 in annual lease revenue to the airport, up from $80,000 Atlantic Aviation paid annually for its old facility. County officials, including Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger, have speculated about its potential to attract a more affluent clientele to the area.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” Booth said.
He added the new facility opens up more apron space for the airport’s commercial flights, which will help to avoid congestion and reduce delays if a plane has maintenance issues. It also allows space for a full-time medical transport airplane, owned by CareFlight of the Rockies. Booth said it is the first time such a service has been a permanent feature at the airport, expanding its emergency transport capabilities.
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