Low airfares may not last, says Aspen travel official | VailDaily.com

Low airfares may not last, says Aspen travel official

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado – The airfare deals currently available for flying into Aspen and elsewhere may not last, a local resort official told Aspen lodging representatives Wednesday. His advice: If you plan to book a flight, do it now.

Bill Tomcich, president of local reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass and the resort’s liaison to the airline industry, returned Wednesday from The Boyd Group Aviation Forecast Conference, an annual gathering held this year in Lexington, Ky., with mixed news.

On the bright side, service into Aspen this winter will be strong at a time when, overall, service is shrinking and airplanes are being grounded as the airlines respond to economic challenges, Tomcich told members of the Aspen Lodging Association.

“We’ve got more airplanes available to fly into our airport than we’ve ever had,” he said.

But as airlines make service cutbacks and travel demand inches back upward, the laws of supply and demand will dictate fares, Tomcich predicted.

“It doesn’t take an economist to know what that means,” he said. The record low fares that travelers have been enjoying won’t last.

“The message is, this is as good as it’s ever going to get,” Tomcich said.

Aspen-Pitkin County Airport officials reported this week that airline competition and low fares have lured area residents back to using the local airport, rather than catching a flight out of Grand Junction, Eagle County or Denver to save money.

At present, there are deals to be had for travelers starting their trip at the Aspen airport or flying in from elsewhere.

A quick check Wednesday of United fares for a round-trip flight to Aspen from Dallas-Fort Worth, leaving on Dec. 6 and returning Dec. 12, produced a $268 fare. The same trip, from Aspen to Dallas and back again, was available for $238.

Aspen is the only mountain market where United will increase service this winter, according to Tomcich. The airline will add a third daily nonstop flight between Aspen and Chicago this winter, and increase its Aspen-San Francisco service to daily flights this winter.

Delta also serves Aspen, and Frontier Airlines, coming out of bankruptcy proceedings as a subsidiary of new owner Republic Airways, plans to offer four daily flights this winter between Aspen and Denver. Frontier entered the Aspen market in April 2008 with its subsidiary, Lynx Aviation.

With Republic’s purchase of both Frontier and Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines, additional connections to key markets and additional aircraft will likely mean good things for Aspen this winter, said Tomcich, though he declined to reveal any specifics.

“I’m really encouraged by some of the strategies Frontier is employing,” he said.


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