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