The arrival of jet service to Telluride Regional Airport is not expected to affect the Montrose airport — and will be good for the whole region, Montrose County officials said.
“I don’t think it’s going to hurt Montrose as much. We’re at capacity anyway. We welcome any new travel,” Montrose County Commissioner Roger Rash said.
Denver Air Connection, with an interline relationship with United Airlines, is poised to offer daily jet flights from Denver to Telluride starting May 15, and lasting year-round, on a 30-seater Dornier 328. The service marks the first time Telluride Regional will offer commercial jet service.
“Through the combined efforts of all the involved parties, we are thrilled to announce this milestone in air service for the Telluride Region,” Colorado Flights Chief Operating Officer Matt Skinner said, in a news release announcing the service.
“Jet service for the Telluride airport, located just 10 minutes from downtown and the slopes, will provide both our residents and visitors fast, comfortable flights from Denver and United’s worldwide connections beyond.”
The new service improves accessibility and convenience, Telluride Mayor Sean Murphy said, also in the news release.
“It is a game-changer that enhances Telluride’s global profile,” he said.
“The continued growth in air capacity and flight options is a significant driver for our local economy,” added Mountain Village Mayor Laila Benitez. “We thank the Colorado Flights Alliance team for making jet service to (Telluride) both an ongoing priority and a reality.”
Colorado Flights Alliance brings enhanced commercial air service to the region during summer months, as well as during ski season, via a public-private partnership, by providing minimum revenue guarantees to commercial carriers.
Montrose Regional Airport Aviation Director Lloyd Arnold said he is not worried about the new option taking customers away from Montrose — in fact, he sees it as a benefit for the region.
“I think it’s a good thing, because lodging and restaurants in Telluride participate heavily in the Colorado Flight Alliance and it’s good they can get a jet aircraft coming into the airport,” Arnold said.
Montrose Regional continues setting records for incoming and outgoing passenger numbers. Last year, 134,106 people boarded planes here and 132,427 deplaned at the airport. For the first two months of this year alone, about 80,000 people have come through the terminal.
“We’re doing very well,” Arnold said. For a 30-seat jet to reach the same number of enplanements and deplanements Montrose has seen, it would have to come here 8,666 times, he said.
“I think it’s a good thing that Telluride has jet service going on. It’s one more thing that provides service to the region and, overall, is helpful to Montrose also,” Arnold added.
Rash said weather may force the new service to land in Montrose sometimes, anyway.
“We just welcome folks coming to this area, recreating and having a good time,” he said.
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the senior writer for the Montrose Daily Press. Follow her on Twitter @kathMDP.