Cooperative effort to open up direct West Coast flights

Service from Los Angeles to Gunnison likely to begin this winter

By Adam Broderick

A potential new direct flight from Los Angeles to Gunnison could bring new winter passengers to the valley this coming ski season starting in December.
The Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) is helping to facilitate the contract that will be held between Alaska Airlines and Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR). If finalized, there would be 30 round trips from LAX to Gunnison between December 16, 2015 and March 26, 2016.
In a show of cooperation with its primary air partner, the RTA agreed to provide a $400,000 letter of credit to the airline at a special board meeting held Tuesday, June 2.
“This will essentially be a $400,000 loan to CBMR,” explained RTA executive director Scott Truex. “The RTA is putting up the collateral and CBMR will pay that back starting in November.”
RTA airline consultant Kent Myers said that he ran financials on the program and he believes the program would be able to achieve an average fare of $340 for flights from Los Angeles into the area.
“I’ve looked through comparisons from Denver to L.A. and it’s pretty common to have a $260 to $290 fare to Denver, so there’s a bit of a premium over the cost of a ticket to Denver’s average price,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to be able to achieve the $340 average fare.”
CBMR president Ethan Mueller said marketing efforts for a partnership like this began two years ago. “We’ve been in the L.A. Times a number of times and we’ve been attending various tradeshows in California, and also Australia because this flight will connect us to the Pacific as well,” he said. “Alaska [Airlines] is much more in tune and involved in marketing and sales so we can actually put together promotions more successfully than we can with United.”
The contract is expected to be completed by the middle of this month.

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