Last fall was booming for air
[ By Mark Reaman ]
Based on early season ticket sales, it appears the Gunnison-Crested Butte Airport will be busy this ski season. Of course, the terminal is going through a major renovation so the passengers will get a taste of construction as they arrive and depart at GUC. But the early winter warm weather made it possible for most service to be moved inside the terminal building so passengers won’t have to wait in outdoor tents.
“It is still challenging and we are asking people for patience,” said Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) board member and county commissioner Roland Mason.
Tourism and Prosperity Partnership (TAPP) executive director John Norton said air seats are selling well and the sales are ahead of any recent year. “We have moved some marketing resources out of Texas to give Denver a boost,” he told the RTA board at the December 10 meeting. “Denver is relatively weaker at the moment and it is an important hub for us. Just less than half the seats sold this season go through Denver.”
RTA executive director Scott Truex said this week the RTA is ahead of the previous four years in terms of seats sold at this point in the year.
RTA air consultant Kent Myers was excited at the pace of ticket sales. The ski season air program hit full capacity starting December 16. “We have seen large increases in the number of passengers booking into Gunnison,” he said. “We have a lot more seats coming in this winter and every market (Dallas, Houston and Denver) is looking strong. Everything is going up and this recent 30-inch snowstorm won’t hurt. There is lots of good stuff this winter.”
“Crested Butte got more snow than anywhere else in Colorado,” added Myers’ partner Bill Tomcich. “The schedules and types of aircraft coming into Gunnison work really well. There are more seats coming in this winter. It’s the right size for the market. It’s a good mix between United and American.”
It’s not just winter seeing a bump in passengers. Myers said he was hopeful of the fall given last autumn’s numbers. “There was a substantial increase in the number of seats coming into GUC in October and November,” he said. “GUC saw a lot of passengers those months. There were 7,500 people through the airport which is a dramatic increase over previous years. There is some light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to the off-season.”
The United flights for next summer are loaded in the system and there are discussions about getting an American flight to run between Dallas and Gunnison next summer. Details are being worked out and more information will likely be available early in 2022.