United may up service between DIA, Sardy | AspenTimes.com

United may up service between DIA, Sardy

United Airlines may increase daily service between Denver and Aspen by as much as 40 percent this winter.

Jim Elwood, executive director of Pitkin County airport, said yesterday that he had it “from a good source” that the carrier was planning to up the number of daily flights during the ski season between DIA and Sardy Field to 14. On the weekends, the number would grow to 17 per day, according to Elwood’s source.

He also reported that Northwest Airlines is considering a longer season for its winter service between Memphis and Aspen, and more frequent service to its hub in Minneapolis.

Last winter, in the wake of 9/11, United Express, the primary carrier in and out of Aspen, cut the number of daily flights to 10. “Our capacity was substantially reduced last winter,” Elwood said.

Bill Tomcich, president of Stay/Aspen Snowmass, a reservations agency that handles about 6 percent of Aspen’s overall bookings at hotels and condominiums, said the rumor has yet to show up in the airlines’ central reservation systems. And until that happens, he said, nothing is certain.

“It’s potentially exciting news,” Tomcich said. “Once they’ve loaded the flights into their reservation system, we’re going to be telling the whole world about it.”

Tomcich said he heard the same information that Elwood did, but pointed out that United’s 14 flights a day in and out of Aspen could include the once-a-day flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco. He added that there is no way to confirm the increased service until the airlines start selling seats on new flights.

“Either way, if it actually happens, it will be the most flights we’ve had from United in a long time,” Tomcich said. “The more flights we have in the winter, the easier it is for guests to come in and out of Aspen and Snowmass.”

Last winter, United operated one flight a day between Los Angeles and Aspen, and 10 between Denver and Aspen, with three extra on the weekends, according to Tomcich.

The previous two winters, United offered 12 flights daily between Denver, with four extra on the weekends.

United Express is owned and operated by Air Wisconsin, but scheduling decisions are made by United Airlines, Tomcich said.

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