Bonanza delaying its takeoff |

Bonanza delaying its takeoff

Bonanza Airlines, the start-up carrier that hopes to become the airline of the Western Slope, has pushed back its tentative launch date until springtime, Bonanza’s CEO said yesterday.

“We’re waiting for the investment bankers to finish up the financing on it,” said Duggan Brown, chairman and CEO of Bonanza. “Hopefully, we’ll be in the air before winter is over, but I don’t have a sure date in my mind.”

In September, when Bonanza first announced its intentions – to provide air service for the Western Slope cities of Aspen, Telluride and Durango, along with Denver, Las Vegas and Albuquerque – Brown said Bonanza hoped to launch service to and from Aspen before Christmas.

Financing difficulties aside, Bonanza has been certified with the Federal Aviation Administration to operate passenger carrier services, Brown said.

In recent history, Aspen has witnessed the short-lived rise and fall of several start-up airlines. Most recently, Aspen Mountain Air terminated its Aspen service in October 1998 before going bankrupt altogether. Mountain Air Express folded in 1997, and several other airlines over the years have announced intentions of launching service in Aspen, though plans never materialized.

“Don’t give up on us, we sure haven’t,” Brown said. “If anything, we’re getting stronger.”

Brown, a former Aspen resident of 26 years, has worked in the airline industry his entire life and started the successful Aspen Airways for The Aspen Institute in 1960. Presently of Mancos, Colo., Brown plans to return to Aspen to run Bonanza, as it is likely to be based in Aspen, he said.

Bill Tomcich, president of Aspen Central Reservations and director of travel services for the Aspen Skiing Co., said Bonanza is in a familiar predicament for start-up airlines.

“I’m totally optimistic that within the next two to three years, we will see another Aspen-to-Denver carrier – it may be Bonanza, it may be somebody else – but it’s not going to happen anytime soon,” Tomcich said.

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