Eagle County Summer Flights
Gwen Baum couldn’t decide whether to pick up her luggage or drink champagne and eat cheese at the Eagle County Regional Airport. Baum, of New York City, was among the 100 passengers – the plane has capacity for 176 – who arrived on the first direct daily summer flight from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to Eagle.
Most passengers were surprised when they walked down the American Airlines Boeing 757. They were greeted by Helmut Fricker, who played his alphorn and accordion, and by county Commissioner Tom Stone.
It was sunny and 78 degree when the plane landed at 5:45 p.m..
As passengers entered in the terminal, they also got goody bags with sunscreen, a bottle of water, an Eagle County mug and pins.
“This new direct flight just makes it so easy,” said Hally Kaplan, a second-home owner from Costa Rica, who came to spend some time with her children at their Cordillera house. “This flight cuts three hours from the trip.”
To offer the summer service, American Airlines requested $475,000 in guaranteed money. Those pledging towards the guarantee included: Eagle County; East-West Partners; the Vail Valley Jet Center; Vail Resorts; the town of Gypsum; the town of Avon; the town of Vail; Beaver Creek Resort Company; Beaver Creek Resort merchants; Cordillera; Sonnenalp Resort of Vail; Slifer; Smith and Frampton and Dollar Rent A Car.
“In a downward economy, we needed to do something to help stimulate the economy locally,” Tom Stone said. “And this will serve the purpose.”
The “Fly Vail Summer program” will run through Sept. 3. The flights will carry 176 passengers inbound and 160 outbound.
“The reservations numbers are looking strong,” Myers said. Of the 14,000 seats available through Sept. 3, more than 5,000 are already booked,” Myers said.
“The current trend in the tourism industry is that people are booking closer into the departure date.” To break even, Myers said there has to be a 65 percent load by the end of the summer.
“What will happen is that these people will go back and talk about the flight,” Myers said.
The trend of the Eagle County Regional Airport is it’s finally becoming “regional”, Myers said.
The county airport is strategically located one and a half hour from Aspen, 30 minutes from Beaver Creek and Vail and one hour to Summit County.
“In the winter about 20 percent of the people going to Aspen fly through this airport,” Myers said.
“Now, with this program we’re the only market that serves Dallas and the only airport that gets a 757,” he added.
American Airlines’ Dallas-Fort Worth hub will connect travelers from Eagle County within 50 minutes with 28 cities in the United States including, Boston, New York, Orlando, Miami, Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta, as well as Zurich, Switzerland.
Edwards’ second-home owner Margaret Gilbert lives in Dallas and also arrived in the flight Saturday.
“I plan to fly into the airport every other weekend,” she said. “They’re already running good specials.”
For more information on daily direct flights to Eagle County contact American Airlines.
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