Vail Valley winter air service includes more flights from several cities | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley winter air service includes more flights from several cities

United Airlines is expanding its ski-season flights from Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and San Francisco to Eagle County Regional Airport. American Airlines is also expanding service from cities the airline currently services.

EAGLE COUNTY — While Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek are opening early, the winter flight season is starting as scheduled, on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

This season's flights in Eagle County Regional Airport include expanded service from several cities already on the schedule. Three airlines — United, American and Delta — will fly skiers from 13 cities.

That expansion comes with a bit of bad news: Air Canada has dropped its partial-season flights from Toronto to Eagle County.

Eagle County Aviation Director Kip Turner said the loss of that flight is due to Air Canada moving aircraft to different spots around that country.

The airline is moving more of its front-line aircraft — the Airbus 319 — to cities in Western Canada and the western U.S., Turner said. That made it too difficult to have one of those planes in Toronto for service to Eagle County.

But, Turner said, the airport has retained service picked up for the winter of 2017-2018.

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Both American and United now offer winter flights from Los Angeles. In addition, United has expanded its service from Washington, D.C.

Excitement For Flights

Mike Brumbaugh is chairman of the EGE Air Alliance, a local group of businesses and governments that works to expand service into the airport. Brumbaugh, owner of Venture Sports, said the business owners he's talked to are "psyched" to see the increase in the number of flights from the nation's capitol. The coming season's flights have grown from 48 last winter to 65 or so. Given the size of the market from Washington and northern Virginia, that expansion is welcome.

Brumbaugh also talks to people he works for — of course — as well as friends and neighbors. Those people are excited about other service on the schedule.

Brumbaugh said he has friends who used the flight from Phoenix as the first leg of a trip to Hawaii. And, he added, one of his store managers recently took a trip to visit family in Florida using American's daily service from Dallas.

Dallas is one of the nation's largest airline hubs, meaning travelers can catch a flight to just about anywhere from that airport. That particular trip to Florida came within $100 per ticket of a flight from Denver International Airport.

At that price, "it's a no-brainer" to fly from Eagle County instead of driving miles east of Denver and paying for parking.

The year-round service from Dallas leaves Texas in the morning, making a connection into Eagle County from other cities inconvenient for some travelers.

But, Brumbaugh said, the year-round service from Dallas is still relatively new, and flight schedules aren't set in stone. And, he added, the year-round service from Denver and Dallas is a boon for hotels looking to book group business.

While locals may not be attracted to flights to Washington D.C., Brumbaugh said expanded service to Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco will be an attraction, too.

Those flying through the local airport will see progress on a $33 million improvement project at the facility. When finished in November of 2019, those improvements will include jet bridges to four of the commercial terminal's gates, leaving only two ground-loading gates.

Other improvements include improved concessions and a bar area.

The airport will remain open during construction, of course.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

Four facts:

Dec. 19-April 1: Winter flight season for 2018-19.

Two airlines — United and American — offer year-round flights into Eagle County, from Denver and Dallas.

Including the year-round flights, winter service will come from 13 cities.

An Air Canada flight from Toronto has been pulled from the schedule for the season.

Source: Eagle County Regional Airport