Eagle County Airport will see winter flight to Philadelphia | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County Airport will see winter flight to Philadelphia

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily
American Airlines flight 1495 pulls up while taking off from the Eagle County Regional Airport while transporting passengers to the Dallas/Fort Worth Internation Airport in 2014.
Justin Q. McCarty

American Airlines has announced weekly nonstop service between its Philadelphia International Airport hub and Eagle County Regional Airport for the winter ski season. Tickets are now available for purchase through American Airlines’ website.

American’s new Saturday-only service from Philadelphia will run from Dec. 21 through Jan. 4 and again from Feb. 15 through April 4. The flight will depart at 8:20 a.m and arrive in Eagle at 11:05 a.m. The return flight departs Eagle County at 2:05 p.m. and arrives in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. American will operate the route with Boeing 757 aircraft.

“As we work to create a route network that connects more people and places across the globe, American Airlines is excited to add seasonal winter service between our Philadelphia hub and Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado,” said Jim Moses, vice president of PHL Hub Operations. “The weekly flight provides customers looking to enjoy the snow easy access to one of the country’s most well-known ski destinations.”

Yann Benjamin, director of marketing for Vail and Beaver Creek, said Vail Resorts welcomed the announcement of the new flight.

“The Northeast remains a very important market for our region, and accompanied with the existing flight service from New York LaGuardia, Newark and Kennedy airports, this flight from Philadelphia will continue to make Vail and Beaver Creek two of the most accessible resorts in North America,” Benjamin wrote in an email.

“We have a great partnership with American Airlines and we’re thrilled with their decision to begin nonstop service from Philadelphia,” Eagle County Manager Jeff Shroll wrote in a news release.

In a subsequent phone interview, Shroll added that the Philadelphia flight is coming without minimum revenue guarantees. Those guarantees cover potential revenue losses on new routes and are put up by communities as an incentive for airlines to attract new service.

An American flight from Los Angeles last year also was added to the schedule without those revenue guarantees.

Shroll noted that American’s decision to add service from Philadelphia wasn’t prompted by a request from the county.

“Sometimes flights aren’t driven by our side,” Shroll said. But, he added, service that doesn’t require revenue guarantees is always welcome.

Vail Town Council Member Greg Moffet is a member of the EGE Air Alliance, a nonprofit group what works to expand service into the airport.

As opposed to other resort-area airports that have dedicated funding sources to pay for revenue guarantees, the EGE Air Alliance is now on an as-needed basis, working with local governments and businesses to raise money to pay for those guarantees.

Speaking for himself and not the Alliance, Moffet said that group’s efforts in the future ought to focus on year ’round service that can be used by both visitors and local residents.

“We want to get another carrier,” in addition the current service from American, United and Delta airlines, Moffet said. “We need year-round reliable, inexpensive service to a major hub that isn’t Denver.”

But, Moffet added, he’s happy to hear that American is adding to its portfolio of flights. And, he said, the Philadelphia flight could help him cross an item off his personal bucket list.

“Now I can fly to Philly, go to (famed cheesesteak restaurants) Geno’s and Pat’s, take the Acela (train) and fly home from New York,” he said.

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