Saturday, November 21, 2020

New air service from San Luis Valley Regional Airport (KALS) began November 1st

SAN LUIS VALLEY, Colorado - San Luis Valley Regional Airport manager Will Hickman gave a presentation on the airport during the Upper Rio Grande Economic Development (URGED) meeting November 10th, and announced the arrival of a new airline that started services at the airport November 1st.

United Airlines will be flying a CRJ-200 Jet with 50 seating capacity. One of the main benefits of this airplane is that there are no baggage restrictions and will allow for freight deliveries. At this time, the airport is offering flights several times a day to DIA out of Denver that cost anywhere between $100 to $150 roundtrip.

Hickman began his presentation with a brief history about himself and the airport stating that the location of San Luis Valley Regional Airport was chosen in 1939. According to Hickman, Carl Bergman and Lloyd Jones were the first people to build a hangar at the airport which still stands today, including a building that may have been Bergman’s personal home.

The San Luis Valley Regional Airport began commercial flights in 1947 with Monarch Airlines which then changed to Frontier who employed Convair 580s until Great Lakes Airline took over with BE1900s. For the past several years, Boutique Airlines offered commercial services at the airport. “Boutique Airlines did great things for the airport while they offered services here. We had a great relationship with them but needed to expand our services to heighten tourism and commercial services here in the Valley. So, on November 1st we welcomed United Airlines Services through Sky West,” said Hickman.

In addition to no baggage restrictions, the airline also offers inflight services, private restroom, wheelchair access, overhead bin space and the CRJ-200 jet is quieter than the previously used PC-12s from Boutique Airline. “This not only helps bring people to the Valley but it has given us global recognition. It is putting us on the map. We have real airline service now,” said Hickman.

Hickman also talked about funding opportunities that come with the change in airline services stating the airport will be eligible for more funding to start capital improvement projects in the future. “We have to record 10,000 enplanements or passengers in order to qualify for a $1 million grant which can be used to improve capital projects around the airport. It will be a huge benefit for Alamosa and the surrounding southwest region.”

The airport is looking to improve rental car services, offer shuttle service for individuals who need to travel to and from the airport, increase Uber and Lyft opportunities for the Valley, increase parking locations, have more direct connections to other locations outside of DIA and to complete more capital improvements in the airport.

In 2019, the Regional Airline Association did a study that found that small airports generate a significant amount of economic activity throughout the U.S. It stated, “The main finding is that small community air service generates a significant amount of economic activity in the U.S. There are 570 small community airports in the U.S. and air service to these airports generates $134 billions of economic activity in the respective communities according to the study. Communities of all sizes seek access to air service as a driver for attracting investment, generating employment and providing mobility for citizens.” Which is the hope for San Luis Valley Regional Airport as they continue to improve services and work to qualify for capital improvement funding.

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