Colorado Flights Alliance on Wednesday announced another commercial air-service expansion to the Telluride region.
In late July, the alliance, a regional partnership that actively works to secure commercial air service to Telluride and Montrose airports, announced that commercial service would be returning to Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) following a two-year hiatus. Great Lakes Airlines will reinstate year-round commercial air service to the airport beginning Dec. 17 through a partnership with United Airlines to book flights between Denver International Airport (DEN) and Telluride.
The announcement on Wednesday concerned expanded passenger service to Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ). American Airlines will now operate year-round between Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) airport and Montrose instead of only during the summer and winter high seasons.
Matt Skinner, chief operating officer of Colorado Flights Alliance, said American Airlines is basically expanding its nonstop offerings to Montrose, “building up from seasonally to year-round.”
“We have been working with our partners at American on this for several years, and through strategic growth in flights, seats and passengers, we are thrilled to be able to offer our locals, visitors and businesses an added year-round option to the region,” Skinner said.
Already, United Airlines provides daily, year-round service between Denver and Montrose. Thus, the American Airlines’ service “will add a second daily, year-round option for MTJ travelers,” a flights alliance news release said.
American Airlines recently announced plans for a second daily flight from DFW to MTJ during the core of the winter tourism season and also said a larger aircraft would serve the route in the summer.
American’s service in April-May and October-November will consist of one flight daily on a 50- to 70-seat regional jet, Skinner said.
“The growth in our core tourism seasons, and the expansion and diversification of our regional economy, have allowed us to push through with added year-round demand for flights,” he said.
The new travel option broadens the accessibility of the region, providing a viable resource for business, pleasure and lifestyle, the news release said.
“The achievement of solidifying year-round service will be a boost to our economy, in particular serving our visitors and second-homeowners hailing from Texas, a key market for our community,” Mountain Village Mayor Dan Jansen said in a prepared statement.
As Colorado tourism leads the nation in growth, ease of travel is pertinent to capturing market share in the industry, the news release said. Access to the region provides a very marketable travel message.
“The addition of another year-round flight is an exceptional marketing opportunity for us and will absolutely contribute to the entire region’s continual economic growth — including tourism, business development and ancillary sectors to them both,” Michael Martelon, CEO of the Telluride Tourism Board, said in the news release.
Montrose Regional Airport figures prominently in the regional tourism market and the overall economy, the release said. Air service is a major factor for travelers around the country and the world when considering where to visit and spend tourism dollars.
“This is another step forward for the growth of the airport, which is the largest economic driver in the region,” Montrose County Commissioner David White said in the news release. “A year-round DFW flight is yet another example of the county’s successful partnership with the Colorado Flights Alliance and its diligent work.”
The year-round DFW flights are currently available for sale, with travel bookable through August 2017.
In another announcement in late June, the flights alliance said that Las Vegas-based Allegiant Airlines, a low-cost airline primarily serving leisure travelers, would start service between Denver and Montrose on Dec. 17. However, that service is winter-only, with flights running mostly on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and is scheduled to end on March 25.
Skinner said at the time that Allegiant’s entry into the market was “a game-changer” in that no other low-cost carriers were offering direct service between Denver and the state’s ski resort areas.
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