Delta expands with year-round service |

Delta expands with year-round service

Janet Urquhart

Delta Air Lines will offer two daily connections to Aspen next winter and provide year-round service to the resort if the market supports it, a resort official announced Wednesday.Aspen/Snowmass is among 11 ski destinations where Delta will boost or introduce service – all with regional jets.The airline announced in March that it would launch service to the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport with one daily connection for the summer months, starting in June. It later bumped its plan to two daily flights in July and August in response to consumer demand.The airline now intends to continue a daily connection between Aspen and its Salt Lake City hub through September, October and November, and boost service to two flights daily from Dec. 16 through March 2007.As for what happens next April Delta will operate year-round if the market supports it, according to Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass and the resort’s liaison to the airline industry.While the number of airline seats coming into Aspen next winter won’t match the heyday of air service in the early ’90s, Delta’s potential entry into the market as a year-round carrier presents something of a first year-round jet service (not turboprops) by two major carriers.United Airlines, Aspen’s major carrier, offers year-round jet service, as well, flying as United Express.When Delta initially announced plans to test the Aspen market, the airline was mum on its long-term plan for the resort, though locals wondered about the prospects for winter-season service.”When they announced the new service back in March, yeah, they were sticking their toe in the water,” Tomcich said. “I would say Delta is more than sticking their toe in the water – they’ve jumped in.”This summer, Aspen/Snowmass will have 20 percent more airline seat capacity than it had last year and the most it’s had since 1997, Tomcich added.United Express, Delta Connection and America West/U.S. Airways will all offer summer service to Aspen.Delta will also introduce ski season connections to the Montrose airport, which serves Telluride in southwest Colorado, and recently announced new service between Salt Lake City and Durango. The airline will also offer new or expanded jet service to Steamboat and Grand Junction.”Delta has always offered our ski aficionados access to several popular ski destinations, and this ski season we’ll be offering more than ever before,” said Bob Cortelyou, Delta’s vice president of network planning, in a news release.The airline’s regional jet service also represents a boost from turboprops for a number of the Colorado markets it serves, Tomcich noted.Delta is also offering introductory fares that have forced United to compete by dropping its fares from a number of markets, he said.For example, United has matched Delta’s $318 round-trip fare between Aspen and Los Angeles this summer.”It’s really interesting to see what competition is doing – not only in our marketplace, but throughout Colorado,” Tomcich said. “It’s all good for consumers and frequent flyers, that’s for sure.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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