For the past few weeks, speculation has been rampant about new flights from the Colorado Springs Airport. Would they renew flights to Orlando? To Phoenix? Would existing carriers expand their flights?
The answer came Thursday morning – Alaska Airlines will fly from Colorado Springs to Seattle starting in November. At the announcement, Mayor Steve Bach said he would be the first to sign up for the flight.
“At my own expense, of course,” Bach said.
The move comes as the airport is seeing month after month of declines in passenger travel, dropping from a high of 5 million in 1996 to anticipated passenger loads of fewer than 700,000 this year. Officials hope that the new announcement will help stop the flow of passengers headed to Denver.
“We think about 100 people in Southern Colorado go to Denver to take this flight,” the mayor said. “We think they can come here.”
The flight from Colorado Springs to Seattle will cost $5 more, he said.
The reason for the media conference was clear. At 8 a.m. on a Thursday morning, the airport should have been bustling with travelers, hurrying to make business flights. Instead, it was quiet – there were no lines at the ticket booths, no lines at security.
The ever-decreasing passenger load was exacerbated by a recent decision by Frontier Airlines to leave the Colorado Springs market, just months after declaring the local airport as one of its “focus airports.”
In order to beef up passenger rates at the airport, the city issued a request for marketing firms to bid to rebrand and market the airport to major airlines. The selection team has narrowed the RFPs to two firms, and a decision is expected soon, said Interim Airport Director Dan Gallagher.
And the airport recent turned over a package of incentives – both for passengers and airlines – to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval.
So, the Seattle flight is “positive news,” Bach said. It provides daily service at 8 a.m. from the Springs airport and arrives in Seattle at 9:55 a.m. The daily flight from Seattle to Colorado Springs leaves at 6:30 p.m. and arrives locally at 9:55 p.m.
To mark the new flights, Alaska is offering introductory one-way fares from $129 between Seattle and Colorado Springs.
For information about new marketing efforts at the airport and Bach’s vision for the airport, see Friday’s CSBJ.