Yampa Valley Regional Airport crew prepped to handle flights from 14 cities | CraigDailyPress.com

Yampa Valley Regional Airport crew prepped to handle flights from 14 cities

Tom Ross/Steamboat Today

Direct flights to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul on Delta Airlines this ski season will be on a larger 110-passenger Boeing 717.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Wednesday marked a milestone in the history of Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden with the arrival of flights on Via Airlines from both Austin, Texas, and Kansas City.

The new flights, on a 50-passenger Embraer 145 jet, will operate three times weekly and boost the number of markets served by direct flights into the Yampa Valley to 14. And Airport Director Kevin Booth said this week the airport has prepared for the additional traffic by reopening Gate 1 in the secure area of the terminal.

That required purchasing 60 new seats, as well as a few more, to reduce the number of departing passengers who must stand at the gate during peak times as they wait to board their airplane.

Also in the vein of a busier airport, Delta Airlines flights from Minneapolis/St. Paul will be flown on a larger aircraft this ski season – the 110-passenger Boeing 717.

United Airlines has also increased the frequency of its flights to Yampa Valley from Denver on a variety of small jets to three or four flights daily compared to two or three flights a day during the 2016-17 winter season.

Another first at YVRA is that Steamboat fliers, not to mention pilots, will now be able to turn to the National Weather Service to get precise weather forecasts for the airport.

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"We have a new automated weather observing system that was installed in August for improved weather information for flight crews," Booth said. "It allowed development of a terminal aerodrome forecast specifically for our airport, which also provides more accurate weather info for flight crews."

One of the hoped-for outcomes is that commercial airline pilots will have improved information on what the airport is experiencing, which could lead to fewer weather-induced delays and cancellations.

Also new at the airport this ski season:

• TSA has added a new advanced full body scanner to the checkpoint, which is expected to speed up the process and result in fewer false alarms. It has also increased the number of carry-on items that require manual/visual inspection.

• The airport gift shop, now called Tailwinds General Store, will feature more local/regional vendors like Smartwool, Ohana, Sweetwood Cattle Co., Homesteader, three local brewers, and for the first time, Steamboat Whiskey. 

• For the first time, the equipment used to remove snow from the runways, including a massive new rotary broom and matching snow blower, will be stored in a heated metal building.

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

Uber makes it official?

Yampa Valley Regional Airport Director Kevin Booth confirmed this week that Uber is poised to make its operations official at the airport in Hayden about 22 miles west of Steamboat Springs.

Uber has operated at the airport for the past two years, Booth confirmed. But this year he was able to negotiate a contract legitimizing the ride-sharing company’s  operations and providing the airport, owned and operated by Routt County, some additional revenue.

“The Uber contract is agreed upon and at their headquarters to sign,” Booth said. “Our intent is to have Uber services this season.”

Revenue owed the airport will be based on a per trip basis, Booth said, and drivers will be required to wait at a designated holding area off airport, but within a couple of minutes of the terminal, as they wait for fares.