Eagle Airport to add a direct Chicago flight this summer
EAGLE COUNTY – Bobbi Freshcorn only makes it out here once a year, despite having a son and daughter-in-law in Avon and a grandchild on the way.The Chicago resident has to fly to Denver and drive up to Eagle County for her visits. The trip is far from convenient, she said.”I definitely would come more often if I could fly direct,” Freshcorn said. Freshcorn is in luck. The Eagle County Regional Airport will be adding a direct American Airlines flight from Chicago this summer, hoping to capitalize on a tourist market searching for an easy way to get here.”I also know a few people who like to come out there for vacations, and would also love the fact that they could fly direct,” Freshcorn said. The Chicago area is Eagle County’s third largest tourism market in the summer, said Frank Johnson, executive director of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau. Local merchants urged the Eagle Board of County Commissioners in December to add a direct flight from Chicago to the airport’s 2005 summer service. The group also pledged $335,000 toward profit guarantees. The county underwrites profit guarantees to lure flights here. The merchants wanted and won another Denver flight to the summer schedule. United Airlines already flies one direct Denver flight into the airport during the summer. The risk to the county is lowered because the merchant group is promising to share the bill if the airlines don’t profit. The county is putting aside $200,000 to guarantee the summer flights, which will be combined with the $335,000 pledges from the merchants group.Under their agreement, if the flights aren’t completely profitable Eagle County will pay up to $150,000 to the airlines. If the loss exceeds that, the merchant group will have to fork over their obligated amount. Only if that isn’t enough will Eagle County have to pay the remaining $50,000, Ingstad said. Eagle County also has committed $45,000 toward marketing the summer flights. Freshcorn, at least, believes the Chicago flight will be successful. “People want to get where they are going faster these days, and I truly believe if it were advertised, more people would come,” she said. Tamara Miller can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 607, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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