Eagle airport getting fall service | AspenTimes.com

Eagle airport getting fall service

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent

GYPSUM ” Until now, big commercial jets from other parts of the country only came into the Eagle County airport in winter and summer.

But starting next fall, American Airlines is adding fall flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to Eagle County Regional Airport. It’s the first time the airport has had large-jet commercial service in the fall, said Chris Anderson, the Eagle County Regional Airport’s administration manager.

The new service helps Eagle County serve as a year-round resort, said Michael Robinson, president of Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, which negotiated the deal.

“It’s bringing access into the Vail Valley at a time when there hasn’t been direct flights before,” said Robinson. The Chamber and Tourism Bureau negotiated the deal.

The Eagle County Airport, about 90 minutes from Aspen, also sees use by travelers bound for Aspen and Snowmass.

American Airlines is guaranteed a certain amount of money in the deal. If they don’t make enough money, the Chamber and Tourism Bureau has to provide the difference.

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The chamber will ask for money from the county, towns and businesses to go toward the guarantee, Robinson said.

Because of good airline business in the summer this year, those pledges weren’t used very much recently, Robinson said.

“Partners needed to pay very little, if any, of pledge money,” he said.

The chamber will ramp up promotion of the fall in the Vail Valley, including activities like hiking, golf, hunting and mountain biking, Robinson said.

Direct flights from Dallas will begin June 14 and continue through the winter until March 2008. The fall flights contract is for 2007 only and could be renewed, Robinson said.

Now, the only commercial flights that are coming into Eagle County in the fall are United shuttle service from Denver. Charter planes come into the airport all year long.

Anderson said fall service is an important step for the airport.

“It’s a milestone, but it’s always been on the horizon,” he said.

The daily 757 service will leave Dallas/Fort Worth at 5:05 p.m. and arrive in Gypsum at 6:20 p.m. The outgoing flight will leave Gypsum at 9:15 a.m. and arrive in Dallas at 12:20 p.m.