Telluride Airport Traffic Down 49 Percent
Nov 24, 2009 | 2403 views | 5 5 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The recent announcement in the paper stating that Airline Service for Winter 2009-2010 Expands is correct for the Montrose Regional Airport, but not for the Telluride Regional Airport.

The Telluride Regional Airport has lost 13,756 airline enplanements or 49 percent of its enplanements since 1995. In the winter of 1993/1994, the Telluride Regional Airport had six airlines serving the airport. This winter, we will have two airlines with only two daily flights from Denver (maybe 3) and two daily flights from Phoenix, which will be a further decrease in service from 2008.

We have estimated that approximately 25,000 people are flying into Denver, and then flying to Montrose and driving to Telluride (or maybe some of them drive to Crested Butte), because there are no longer seats to fly directly into Telluride where local businesses would have a captured audience.

Telluride’s economy is dependent on tourism, and the business traveler. Frequency of daily flights into and out of the Telluride Regional Airport is a key factor to stimulate and help diversify our economy.

The Telluride Regional Airport has made great strides since 1996 when it installed a new instrument approach system that has decreased the annual diversion percentage to 10 percent or less. This year, the airport has completed the reconstruction of a new runway which meets the FAA’s new design criteria for runway grades and lighting. Phase III will complete the widening of the runway safety areas, and increase the runway’s design category from B-III to D-III.

Larger capacity jet service into Montrose has its place in the overall plan. However, frequency of service from Denver to Telluride needs to be greatly increased to round out the required service that Telluride needs to better support its economy. There are aircraft available that can fly into Telluride now. It will require a change in the communities’ priorities to make it happen.

Richard W. Nuttall, Airport Manager
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November 27, 2009
to rich is right, comment below..the fault in your argument is that "our tax dollars are being sent to Montrose"...bub, they aint your tax dollars..they are the consumers...and the consumer is always looking for the best deal and so that is why he is looking at City Market and Corks and Crested Butte...and not Telluride...

What we need is the re-pricing of our ski tickets, our real estate and our tangent services now..and then we will see traffic here in Tride...we are getting there in a slow and painful way...with foreclosures and the boarding up of main street...but if you want to get healthy we need to re-price our assets now..and that includes stripping away of non-essential taxes like the air-org tax..and the "resort tax", etc...

Lower prices and business will return..

November 27, 2009
Local lodger to tell you like it is. I Have been here for over 8 years managing a hotel in MV. Tax collections are down 30% in our county and Hotels have been hit the hardest but every other sector is down in our region as well. The air org says their numbers are up 12% but lodging occupancy is down 12% from last year which was down 22% from the previous year. This means lodging is actually down 34% from 2007. Do people get this, this is why retail and food and beverage is also faltering. Our whole economy is significantly down and is the reason main st. is 1/2 boarded up. The visitors are not on those seats! There is no way on earth that VRBO is taking 34% of our business away and the rest of the sectors being down proves that. The fact is our hotel beds are not being filled and that should beg the question, who is on these planes? The air org is now investing multi-million dollars in MARKETING and have been reporting being ahead several years in a row yet lodging and other tourist segments have suffered the greatest decline in our resort history ever. These air program funds come from our hotel taxes and yet the program is not helping us fill our rooms nor sees a problem with this. We always get reports that our air seats are full and all is well but meanwhile our economy is tanking and no one reports this other than the Tourism board. I suggest reading through the papers and see all the articles on air service over this week as it is staggering. I happen to 100% agree with the Tex airport manager's assessment in his letter to the editor, Rare Air. We need to invest in TEX service, as I firmly believe that our tax dollars are paying for people to fly to Crested Butte, Montrose, Delta and beyond by having a 95% Montrose centric program. When a passenger flies into TEX they stay in TEX, we have over 98% capture rate. TEX passengers stay here, spend more here and support TEX's economy. When passengers fly into Montrose over 50% of them never make to Telluride and when they do, they stop at City Market and Corks and buy all their supplies for their stay. Soon we will see those shuttles vans stopping for meals and at Sports Authority to get their gear, perhaps even bring them back to a Montrose hotel. Yet, Montrose hotels pay 0% into the fund the program and the city only pays 15% to a program and they get 95% of the benefit. Why are dodging the subject for the last 10 years? The government needs to step in and demand a re-organization of that board. We have built the Montrose economy with Telluride's Tax dollars and this needs to stop immediately! I would like to know who is protecting our interests? The air service has grown by over 50% in the last 8 years but our skiers days and lodging taxes have not even come close to that growth. Rare air indeed. Montrose tax only down 8% and Crested Butte lodging is UP over 15% in a recent article.
FaceOnMars (nli)
November 26, 2009
Safe aviator: remember, it's FEDERAL tax dollars & not local taxdollars <-- that's sarcasim in case it floats over anyone's head. Apparently to some, the $60 million is OK if taken from faceless federal coffers.

It'd be interesting to see how a national spin on such a story would go in such dire economic times. Maybe something like "crying with a loaf of bread under each arm".

The expansion of the development market in and around Telluride has really become akin to the "whack-a-mole" game, seems the airport "infill" is the latest arena where we see the mole apppear.

One thing which has not been brought up in the whole airport drama in the press recently is the lack of the ability to use United rewards re: TEX. Unless I've just had bad luck in my timing, it appears to me that since Great Lakes is on one hand a "partner" with United, but is not recognized for the use of "reward miles". If I were a realtor or such, I would make this a goal.

Maybe another would be to impose a "local's tax" to dissuade locals from taking up valuable seats which could potentially seat a tourist or potential buyer of property.
November 26, 2009
listen bud..we are in line for up to 53 million...not 40 million which makes your points even more salient...

air is less dense at altitude and it simply is a bad place to take off from in anything but the best conditions...simple as that..

besides..53 million is a ton of federal money, even if it is Frank Bell type money..other peoples money..our grand kids and their kids..

we should stop this madness...this reminds me or rebuilding new orleans..which is lower than sea level...

Safe aviator
November 26, 2009
What the airport manager fails to mention is that his airport cannot support larger commercial aircraft. In no way will that airport ever see what Montrose Airport sees - you just can't fly large jets into an inherently unsafe airport at 9300' , with unpredictable winds, no precision instrument approach, 14,000' mountains in all quadrants, extraordinarily high density altitudes… the list goes on. This is all technical stuff, but it’s an aviation reality to pilots and operators who take safety seriously.

If Telluride, as a resort, wants to continue bringing in visitors from places like Chicago or Houston or Atlanta, a direct flight to Montrose makes more sense than changing planes at DIA and taking another flight into Telluride, in hope that you may get lucky with winds, visibility and weather and actually land at your destination.

Although the improvements to Telluride Airport are nice, the overall impact to operations and safety are, at best, slightly improved. A duck is a duck, physics is physics. Spend $40 million dollars of federal tax payers' money (oh yah, you have) and you will never change that reality.