Air passenger counts climb at GUC despite some softness

Spring break something to keep an eye on…JSX Austin reservations soft

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

While the Christmas/New Year’s air passenger count into the Crested Butte-Gunnison Airport (GUC) was a bit down from last year given the timing of the holidays, it appears January and February are looking stronger while the March spring break period is lagging. That was the word from the Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) board meeting on January 6.

“Passenger counts on the American flight out of Dallas were down a bit in December,” reported Tourism and Prosperity Partnership (TAPP) marketing director Andrew Sandstrom. “The same softness was reported on the JSX flights (out of Dallas and Austin). We are shifting some of our marketing focus to Austin. JSX is also now offering some discounted local fares.”

Sandstrom said the Christmas break period was down a bit for the entire industry in part given the actual holidays landed on the weekends this past year. “But we are seeing a strong early January and early February,” he said. “Spring break is looking a little down at the moment and we are keeping an eye on that given the dates for spring break.”

RTA air consultant Bill Tomcich, managing partner of Airplanners LLC, reiterated some of the same points. “December was a good month in some ways but there were some lagging numbers,” he reported. “The flights from Denver to GUC were good and Houston was exceptional. American numbers out of Dallas were down quite a bit. The JSX flights were soft out of the chute and the company acknowledged the timing of the Austin announcement was awkward from a marketing perspective. They are appreciative of the TAPP shift to help market the winter flights.”

Tomcich said the Gunnison Airport will have had a great 2022 in terms of passenger counts. “There are expected to be a total of close to 51,000 enplanements recorded at GUC,” he said. “That’s more than a 30% increase over last year. Those are really strong numbers and due in part to the increasing strength of the off-season schedule. The trends are very positive.

“Looking forward, bookings are looking good,” Tomcich continued. “January and February are solid, and we have some softness in March and that is something to keep an eye on.”

Meanwhile, GUC airport manager Rick Lamport said the facility has acquired a piece of property on the airport site that can eventually be used by JSX to facilitate their flights that will be located away from the main passenger terminal. JSX passengers do not have to show up early for security, so do not need to use the main terminal.

Speaking of the main terminal, the recent renovation is almost complete with Lamport saying the only major thing left is to find a good food service provider. Lamport said an official grand opening to celebrate all the terminal improvements is scheduled for January 20 at 4 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend. 

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