Flying high at Eagle County Airport
EAGLE COUNTY – Air traffic at Eagle County Airport set a record in 2004, with more than 193,000 travelers flying into and out of the facility. For the November-April winter season, traffic was up 8 percent over the same period last year, making it the second busiest ski season on record for the airport.According to Chris Anderson, administration manager for the airport, the 1999-2000 winter season still holds the top spot. Overall, though, 2004 saw the biggest numbers of any year, due in large part to increased summer business.
“Most of that increase is coming from the success of the summer 757 service from Dallas and Denver,” Anderson said. He added that, with 2005 year-to-date “enplanements” – one person getting on a plane – up by more than 9,000, the airport is on track to go over 200,000 for the year.Beginning June 6, the airport will see increased non-stop traffic as it adds United flights from Chicago in addition to those from Denver and American Airlines flights from Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s all part of the “Fly Vail Summer” program, which began in 2003 as a joint marketing effort by the county and local merchants.”We’re telling them about the Eagle County Airport and the convenience of using it versus the hassle of Interstate 70,” said Kent Myers, president of Avon-based Air Planners, which coordinates the marketing of Fly Vail Summer. “The fare structures are very competitive, and some are equal to flying into Denver.”Myers said flyers clicking on the “deals” section of the United Airlines Web site (united.com) will immediately see a link to Vail flights.”That’s pretty cool, with as many hits as they get,” he said.
Currently, he said, bookings for the American flights out of Dallas/Fort Worth are ahead of the United flights from Chicago.”We’re encouraged by the traffic but we need to focus a little more on United,” he said. “We want people to be aware of these non-stop flights.”In addition to the presence on united.com, Myers said Fly Vail Summer has been promoted in a variety of ways.”There’s been a lot of marketing support,” he said. “The county has sent a letter to all the homeowners, there’s been direct mail from Vail Resorts, promotional trips to Chicago and Austin with radio support and a lot of collateral material out the door. It’s been quite extensive.”At the airport, Anderson said there’s still plenty of capacity to handle more travelers. Things will get even better, he said, in 2006/2007 when the airport has its new radar equipment in place.
“It will allow for better spacing of the airplanes so they can come in closer to each other,” he said. “It’ll really help with the capacity issue and prepare for the growth we’re expecting to come.”Staff Writer Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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