STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – For the first time, multiple airlines will have daily flights to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden long after the last flake of Champagne Powder falls.
Southwest Airlines announced its summer schedule Thursday, which will include daily service to Denver International Airport and weekend flights to Dallas Love Airport. These flights are in addition to the three daily flights between Hayden and Denver offered by United Airlines.
“Southwest Airlines’ expanded service from Dallas and Denver during the off-season and this summer is a testament to the continued success and commitment of the entire community to the airline’s program,” said Rob Perlman, Steamboat president and chief operating officer. Ski & Resort Corp.
Southwest flights will operate from April 8 to May 31 five days a week and then switch to daily flights from June 3 to August 16. United flights will be on a larger aircraft that includes first class and economy class and will have a substantial increase. in seats compared to previous flights in low season.
Southwest began flying to Hayden in December of last year, the culmination of years of work to bring the budget airline to market.
Adam Decaire, vice president of network planning at Southwest, said the airline is delighted to expand this service, as travelers seek markets with outdoor access after being locked in during the pandemic.
“Thanks to our strong partnership, we look forward to connecting more customers across the Southwest network to all of the great spring and summer activities the region has to offer,” Decaire said in a statement.
Typically, United Airlines is the only airline serving Hayden in the off-season, and the airline would only fly to and from Denver.
“Thinking back to the core of April and May, in the early parts of June, we’ve never had two airlines that I recall,” said Janet Fischer, director of airline programs at Ski Corp.
Fischer said the flight expansion is good not only for visitors coming to the Steamboat Springs area, but also for Northwestern Coloradans. She said this summer service also does a lot to build relationships with airlines.
Southwest’s decision to continue flights to Hayden in the offseason has a lot to do with the success they had during their first winter season, Fischer said. He added that Southwest has also had good relationships with both the airline’s program members and the operations teams at the airport.
There was also marketing support, both from the airport in the form of an incentive program, which has continued beyond an initial deal with Southwest, and from the resort itself. Fischer said the resort and Southwest brands are also a good match.
“The Steamboat brand is that we are strong with families, but we have a variety of types of people,” Fischer said, adding that some other ski resorts tend to attract more people looking for a glamorous experience. “We are different than Deer Valley and Aspen and some of the others.”
Summer is usually a fairly slow time for air travel locally, and many people choose to drive to the area rather than fly. Fischer said these flights will offer a different way for visitors to get here and more variety in fares and departure times. The same is true for locals, Fischer said.
“I think a lot of local people like to travel in April and May, and it definitely adds some variety to the air service,” Fischer said.
The new service could be a big boost for a local economy trying to recover from a pandemic when business would normally have been slow.
“We do weddings and excursions and then some airport transfers, but I think in recent years we’ve only had one flight a day and a couple of flights on hot days,” said Michael Van Vliet, president of Storm Mountain Express. one of the main transportation services at the Yampa Valley airport.
Van Vliet said that when there was a larger jet service to the airport in the summer months in previous years, they eventually pulled out because there weren’t enough people competing for a ticket. The jets are coming this summer and what matters to Van Vliet is how full they will be.
“We’ll see what happens,” Van Vliet said. “Hopefully we’ll capture some of this, but past stories, it seemed like it might have been successful, but for some reason, it didn’t continue.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email [email protected]