Friday, May 27, 2016

Telluride Regional Airport (KTEX) continues to court commercial flights: ‘One of our highest priorities’

Kathryn's Report:

Commercial travelers can’t fly directly to the Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) — instead they must land in Montrose, Durango or elsewhere and catch a bus or other transportation to the box canyon. 

Airport leaders and other advocates aren’t promising that will change anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying.

“It’s the question I’m asked the most in the community: When are we going to have commercial service in Telluride?” said Jon Dwight, chairman of the Telluride Regional Airport Authority Board. “Commercial flights into Telluride (are) one of our highest priorities.”

That’s easier said than done. 

As airlines have moved away from turbo-prop planes and toward larger jets in the past few years, fewer and fewer companies have the sort of equipment that can fly into Telluride, Dwight said. 

“The airline industry has changed dramatically in the past few years,” Dwight said. “There is very little equipment flying today that can access Telluride.”

To address that issue, the airport and its supporters have been working on upgrading the approaches to accommodate larger planes.  

“At this point, it’s almost impossible to put a timeframe on when this all happens,” Dwight said. “We’re dealing with multiple parties — the Federal Aviation Administration, the airlines — so a lot of it is out of our hands, but we as an airport are putting every resource we can at trying to bring commercial service to the airport.” 

The Colorado Flights Alliance is a consortium of regional governments and businesses that advocates for more flights to the area, particularly at Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ), but it also works to bring commercial service back to TEX. Matt Skinner, Colorado Flights’ chief operating officer, said he’s met with regional commercial airlines, charter carriers and private individuals in recent months to discuss bringing commercial service of some kind to Telluride.

“In the past 18 months, we’ve talked to approximately 15 different potential partners. We’re continuing to search in every corner to find something viable and sustainable for the airport,” Skinner said. 

Both Skinner and Dwight said the first targets for commercial flights from TEX would be to Denver and Phoenix. 

“Most people would like to have some level of scheduled or commercial service into TEX, but the workhorse will continue to be MTJ,” Skinner said. “We have not taken our focus off this one bit, and we will continue to push on this until we exhaust all possibilities.”

Skinner said his organization has had “some very positive conversations” in the past two months, and that they are currently in talks with three different potential partners.

Skinner will give his annual update on the Colorado Flights Alliance’s work to the Telluride Town Council at its Tuesday meeting. Skinner’s update is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., and the meeting is at Rebekah Hall. 

Original article can be found here:

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