Derek Franz

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October 17, 2012
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County Airport seeks its own consultant

On Monday, Eagle County Airport Director Greg Phillips told county commissioners that the airport is looking to hire its own consultant.

The consultant would help EGE, as the airport is referred to, maximize flight service in and out of Eagle.

So far Airplanners LLC and the EGE Air Alliance, a public-private partnership that includes the county, towns and about 20 local businesses, has filled that role.

"We've been thinking about it and planning for a while," Phillips said. "First of all, Airplanners doesn't work directly for the county. We want to have a consultant we can call on."

Phillips said that air service marketing efforts so far have been very focused on the resort visitor.

"What are the local travelers' needs?" Phillips said. "We want to do everything we can to make this a local's choice airport. It's hard to compete with Denver International Airport but we do have convenience going for us."

Airplanners is a bidder for the job.

"There are a lot of moving parts to these programs and there are numerous drivers of any new service," said Airplanners president Kent Myers. "Airplanners will be submitting a proposal. If we are selected, great. The Air Alliance will continue to play a role as a community organization supporting air service."

Phillips said the consultant will be selected by the end of the year.

This year, EGE is seeing a continued trend of winter flight service reductions that began in 2009-10. Partly in response to that, the management of Air Alliance is being restructured to operate under the Vail Valley Partnership as an effort to increase fund-raising power and lure new flight service to the area.

Airlines often require "guaranteed revenue" before they try serving a new route. Guaranteed revenue is money put up front so that an airline doesn't suffer the financial loss if the route is not successful in terms of filling seats. On the other hand, if the new route proves successful at the end of the trial period, the airline might choose to stick around on its own accord.

By working with the VVP, the alliance hopes to have more money to invest in guaranteed revenues and ultimately increase air service at EGE.

Vail Daily Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning contributed to this report.

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The VailDaily Updated Oct 17, 2012 01:01PM Published Oct 17, 2012 01:00PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.