With just 1 flight, Yampa Valley Regional Airport passenger numbers down 3,500 in April and May
Steamboat Springs — Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel reported this week that the reduced number of commercial flights at the airport this spring has resulted in 3,500 fewer passengers passing through the airport.
The combined April/May drop-off in passengers was just more than 3,500. Ruppel is expected to discuss the spring airline service during the commission’s monthly meeting Thursday night.
United Express cut April and May flights to just one daily round trip between Hayden and Denver, down from at least two daily flights in 2012. In April, there were 94 air carrier operations compared to 160 in April 2012. And in May, the number of air carrier operations dropped from 128 in 2012 to 68 this year.
The annual flight reduction is timed to the last day of ski season, which varies from year to year, and the actual number of operations also varies with cancellations.
In April, the number of passengers passing through the airport (both arrival and departures) was 4,579 compared with 6,847 in April 2012. In May, 3,040 passengers came through the airport compared with 4,274 in May 2012.
“Summer season operations have been proceeding at a slower pace this year with only one flight a day until the first part of June and then increasing by one flight for June (a total of two daily round trips) and then another flight in July.”
Although United Express offers two round trips in June and three in July, it flew three here in June 2012 and four in July.
United Express has been flying the 74-passenger Bombardier Q400 turboprop into YVRA this spring after announcing last year that it would pull its regional jets out of most of the ski towns. The reduced number of flights means that the aircraft that have operated have carried heavy passenger loads.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Airline Program Director Janet Fischer in May told the members of the advisory committee that oversees expenditures of public monies on securing air service that United Express had been impressed with passenger load factors on the flights during the spring and expressed some optimism that could cause United officials to take a fresh look at their spring/fall schedules here.
“The planes have been pretty full,” Ruppel agreed.
Ruppel said that he had heard some complaints about the limited number of flights this spring but that the addition of the second flight this month has made it easier for travelers to make connections in Denver.
Ruppel also is expected to give an update on FAA and Transportation Security Administration issues during Thursday’s meeting. YVRA was among the smaller airports that lost their more sophisticated passenger scanning devices to larger airports at the direction of Congress last year. The loss of the scanners reportedly has slowed the screening process at airports across the country.
Ruppel had appealed to Congressman Scott Tipton, whose 3rd District includes Routt and Moffat counties, to help airports like YVRA regain their scanners. This month, Tipton announced that his amendment to strip $4 million from the TSA’s administrative budget to fund replacement scanners unanimously had passed the House of Representatives. Ian Lyle, Tipton’s spokesman in Steamboat, confirmed Wednesday that the measure still must pass the Senate before it can move forward.
The full-body scanners cost more than $150,000, and $4 million would fall short of funding the 174 scanners needed.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com
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