Telluride Daily Planet
Telluride airport continues efforts to bring back commercial flights
The Colorado Flights Alliance recently announced an increase in commercial flights to the region for summer 2015, including added service from Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth in and out of Montrose. CFA is funded by the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village and the Telluride Ski Resort, among other organizations, and works to bring increased air service to the region.
“With summer demand continuing to increase at a record pace, we are thrilled to offer such a significant jump in air service for summer 2015,” CFA Chief Operating Officer Matt Skinner said in the announcement. “The new and increased hub markets, as well as a low-cost option, create fantastic ease of access for both our guests across the country and our regional residents.”
Allegiant will extend its twice-weekly flights between LAX and Montrose from winter into summer. United flights from Houston will ramp up from twice-weekly to daily for the height of the summer season. Additional flights from Chicago, Denver and Dallas are also part of the increase.
“The added flights will give us the opportunity to improve on the previous four consecutive record-breaking summers and benefit the overall economic performance of the destination,” Telluride Tourism Board CEO Michael Martelon said in the press release.
While these added flights will come in and out of the Montrose Regional Airport, both CFA and the Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) Board are working to bring commercial service back to Deep Creek Mesa.
“That’s absolutely one of our top priorities,” Skinner said. “We work closely with the Telluride Regional Airport Board trying to find commercial carriers, private ventures or some combination to bring commercial service back into Telluride.”
Current efforts center around TEX’s approach category, which must be upgraded according to Federal Aviation Administration standards to allow larger planes, like those currently employed by regional commercial air carriers, to fly in and out of the precariously placed airport off of Last Dollar Road.
“It’s difficult to even discuss commercial service until we have this Category C approach, and we’re in the middle of that process,” TEX Board Chairman Jon Dwight said.
Dwight added that he would know more about the progress toward obtaining the improved approach at the next board meeting in May, and estimated the process could be completed in nine months to a year. Dwight said the approach category is an instrumentation system that allows planes to fly into the airport under adverse weather conditions.
One potential point of confusion in the announcement, and in additional marketing materials from both CFA and the Telluride Tourism Board, are the references to the “Telluride/Montrose Regional Airport.”
“Telluride Doubles Down on Summer Destination Flights,” reads the title of CFA’s March 10 press release announcing the additional flights, which might lead some to believe that flights from Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles would be landing at TEX, a quick ride from Telluride. But a closer reading of the marketing materials reveals the flights are into MTJ, which both Montrose officials and the Federal Aviation Administration call the “Montrose Regional Airport,” about a 90-minute drive from Telluride. But Skinner said referring to the Montrose Regional Airport as the Telluride/Montrose Regional Airport is not new.
“It makes it easier for locals and guests to find all the options into the area, and it’s been like that for quite a while,” Skinner said.
According to Skinner, visitors to Telluride often don’t know to search for flights into Montrose, so calling the airport the Telluride/Montrose Airport helps clear up that confusion.
“They’ve been calling it that for a while,” Dwight, a representative for TEX, said.
Do the similar names cause confusion?
“Yes,” Dwight laughed.
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