July passengers numbers down at Yampa Valley Regional airport due to reduced Denver flights
Steamboat Springs — The number of passengers arriving at Yampa Valley Regional Airport was predictably down in July, with just two daily roundtrips to and from Denver International Airport on United Express this summer, compared to three on the 71-seat Q400 in the heart of summer 2014.
YVRA reported the number of passengers flying into YVRA was down by 524, from 4,676 in July 2014 to 4,152 in July 2015. And the decline would likely have been greater had service on direct jet flights from Houston not been increased to daily this summer, up from four weekly operations in 2014.
Airport Director Kevin Booth confirmed the news came as no surprise.
“As soon as I saw the summer flight schedule, (I knew) the aircraft from Houston has 50 seats, so we gained 150 seats weekly,” but when you lose 71 seats per flight (on the Q400), that’s 497 seats you’re losing weekly (for a net loss in capacity of 347).
Booth said he did not have detailed passenger numbers for the Houston flight, but added, “I think they (United) are pretty happy with the flight’s performance. And business has been especially brisk on the general aviation side this summer.”
In other airport news, Booth said the final phase of reconstruction of the runway at YVRA is underway and taking place through the nighttime hours. A “notice to airmen” has been issued alerting them to the fact that, as of Aug. 1, the runway is closing to general aviation at 11 p.m. each night and re-opening at 6 a.m. Cardinal International Grooving and Grinding is cutting required grooves in the runway that improve aircraft traction for braking.
The second arrival from Denver every day is scheduled to come in at 10:57 p.m., and the runway is being kept open for that flight until midnight when necessary, Booth said. The work was about 75 percent complete as of Wednesday morning and could be completed by Aug. 18.
///Secure burgers anyone?////
Booth consulted with local restaurateurs last spring on ways to derive more revenue from the food service operation at the airport, and as a result, the airport plans to offer hot burgers and cold microbrews in secure passenger holding areas this winter.
Routt County Commissioners approved Booth’s request Tuesday to spend $21,400 on additional restaurant equipment to expand food and beverage service where departing passengers wait after they’ve gone through security and before they are called to board their aircraft.
He said the new service is based on an awareness that passengers are frequently eager to get beyond security and reluctant to commit the time needed for a full service meal at YVRA’S restaurant in the main terminal.
Booth said Three Wire Bar and Grill will make burgers and french fries in the full-service kitchen and transfer them to hot tables in the secure passenger areas. The airport will also be able to serve microbrews from Butcherknife Brewing Company, and hopefully, Booth said, the new Yampa Valley Brewing Company, which is close to opening in Hayden.
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The Lower and Central Yampa River Basin, which include Craig, Hayde, Rangely, Dinosaur and Meeker, will be under a winter storm warning from the National Weather Service starting at 6 a.m. Thursday.