Yampa Valley Regional Airport receives FAA excellence award ahead of summer expansion, rebranding
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Yampa Valley Regional Airport won a statewide award for excellence from the Federal Aviation Administration last week, beating out airports across Colorado.
The award highlights the Hayden airport’s investments in airfield and terminal upgrades.
This comes ahead of several major changes planned for the airport, including a $2.3 million summer expansion project and a complete rebranding campaign. The goal of these efforts is to bring more flights to the area, as well as to make operations run smoother.
Kevin Booth, the airport’s director, traveled to Seattle during the FAA’s annual Northwest Mountain Region Airports Conference to accept the excellence award. Airport representatives from states across the region attended, and an airport in each state received the award.
Reflecting on the last year and this winter season, Booth said that passenger numbers have remained strong, despite some setbacks.
Overall, airlines scheduled fewer flights to Hayden this winter, but more people have been on those flights. Passenger counts increased by about 4% in January and February compared to flights last year, according to Booth.
“That tells you that the planes that did come were fuller,” he said.
Considering the uptick occurred despite fewer flights, Booth saw it as a natural result of supply and demand.
“When people have less options, they fill up the flights that we do have,” he explained.
He speculated the Ikon Pass, which included access to Steamboat Resort among 36 ski areas around the world, helped to boost visitation this winter.
“I met quite a few people getting off the airplanes who mentioned the Ikon Pass,” Booth said. “I certainly got the impression that it had a positive impact on our ridership.”
This ski season, Jet Blue became the newest airline to schedule flights to the airport, adding direct service from Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Long Beach.
With eyes to next winter, airport officials have planned several construction projects to expand and smooth operations.
The most recent change will be a new website and logo for the airport. That comes as part of a rebranding effort spearheaded by Hive 180, a local marketing and advertising company.
Leslie Murphy, co-owner of Hive 180, described the rebrand as a way to modernize the airport’s online presence and better connect with customers, particularly locals.
“We want to it be a way for people who are based here to feel that they are accessible to flights that make their travel easier,” she said.
Come June, Booth plans to break ground on a seventh gate at the airport, which will allow an additional airline to offer flights. It also opens up terminal space and improves the flow of passengers moving from the security check to their respective gates.
The airport’s fixed-base operator, Atlantic Aviation, has already started construction on a 9-acre expansion on the east side of the airport. The company is spending about $10 million to provide more airplane parking, hangars, fueling and travel planning to private customers, according to general manager Patrick Burke.
Atlantic Aviation has been leasing a hangar and parking space from the airport. When the company moves to its new location, Booth said the leased parking space will become available for an additional or two commercial airplanes next winter.
“It’s almost like overflow parking,” Booth said.
During the busy ski months, the extra space for planes will mean passengers can unload faster.
“There are times when we have a lot of airplanes on the ground, and we literally don’t have a parking space for them,” Booth said.
Completion of these projects is scheduled for late fall in time for the next ski season. Booth plans to host an open house at the airport in November to give the public a chance to see the upgrades.
Colorado Northwestern Community College will host a free presentation from 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 20 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.