Yampa Valley Regional Airport readies for winter season | CraigDailyPress.com

Yampa Valley Regional Airport readies for winter season

Matt Stensland/Steamboat Pilot & Today

A plow clears snow Saturday at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With the start of winter airline flight service three weeks away, Yampa Valley Regional Airport employees were busy Saturday dealing with the snow and and white-out conditions.

“There are some piles out there today,” said Todd Dubois, the maintenance supervisor who was overseeing six people who were trying to keep the runway clear and the parking lots safe.

Winter flights will not start arriving until Dec. 15, but the crew at YVRA has to keep the airport running for daily Denver flights at well as the commercial jets that were scheduled to arrive Saturday afternoon.

“That’s why they’re working so hard right now,” Airport Director Kevin Booth said while driving through some recently completed improvement projects.

The projects included demolishing the old administration building to make room for a new airplane parking spot to bring the total up to seven spots.

To make that parking spot capable of supporting heavy aircraft, construction workers dug 4 feet down. They then put in 2 feet of base material, 8 inches of asphalt and then 13 inches of concrete.

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“That’s what you have to have to park a 767 aircraft,” Booth said.

Improvements were done using grants from the federal government.

This season, three planes will be able to have de-icing done at the same time, which will make run the airport run more efficiently, Booth said.

He said about 102,000 people are expected to depart from YVRA this winter, which is similar to last winter.

To meet the demand, Routt County will employ about 80 people. Additionally, there will be more than 100 people working for SkyWest, which provides operational services for the airlines.

New this year, JetBlue will be servicing the airport with three flights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts and Long Beach, California.

JetBlue will be operating a 150-seat aircraft and the airport remodeled their waiting area to accommodate more passengers with windows overlooking the tarmac.

Booth said the waiting area will be decorated with photos by photographer Tom Mangelsen.

Booth said JetBlue is excited to have a new destination bringing skiers to Steamboat Springs, and there are plans to have Steamboat Olympians ride on the inaugural flights.

Contact Matt Stensland at 970-871-4247 or mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com, or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.