MONTROSE CELEBRATES NEW AIRLINE, FLIGHTS

Staff Report

MONTROSE—Spirits were as high as the friendly skies Tuesday, Sept. 25, when the Telluride Mont- rose Regional Air Organization (TMRAO) an- nounced at a news conference that that Allegiant Air will be landing direct flights to the Montrose Re- gional Airport from the San Francisco Bay and Phoenix metro areas.

The Montrose Regional Airport will soon offer flights to Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area. Photo by Dave Bernier.

“This provides more access, which stimulates our local economy,” Montrose Regional Airport Director of Aviation Lloyd Arnold said. “I am excited that people from San Francisco and Oakland can now get to Montrose and Telluride.”

TMRAO Chair Dirk de Pagter called Montrose “the hub of Western Colorado,” and the new flights “a game changer.”

“It has been amazing to see our region come together,” De Pagter said. “We have worked hard, and fired on all cylinders. We’ve come a long way!”

Montrose Economic Development Corporation Executive Director and TMRAO board member Sandy Head praised the economic devel- opment advantages of direct West Coast access.“We need connectivity!” she said. “TMRAO has provided great opportunities for the Montrose and Telluride communi- ties; we all need to work together and remain strong.”

Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser welcomed “a really new market for the region, and an opportunity to come and see Western Col- orado.”

“This is huge—the transportation compo- nent of our economic development efforts. Our whole business community will bene- fit,” Montrose County Commissioner Gary Ellis said.

“I think this is fabulous,” Telluride Town Council member “Glider” Bob Saunders said.

Official takeoff is set for Dec. 15, when Allegiant will begin direct, bi-weekly ser- vice between Montrose and Oakland Inter- national Airport (OAK) and Phoenix-Mesa airport (IWA) at a rate much lower than previously available. This winter, Allegi- ant will offer an introductory one-way fare from Oakland starting at $113 ($226 round -trip) and from Phoenix starting as low as $83 one-way ($166 round-trip)* (base fare not including bags, pre-reserved seats or other extras). The flights start Dec. 15 and conclude April 3.

“Allegiant offers competitive pricing and increased accessibility for both visitors and locals,” said Scott Stewart, TMRAO Exec- utive Director. “These new flights add an additional 10,000 seats to this winter’s air service and will have a very positive eco- nomic impact on the region’s economy.”

Supplemental funding for the effort to secure an airline partner was provided by the City of Montrose, the Town of Tellu- ride, the Town of Mountain Village and the Telluride Ski Resort. TMRAO also sought funds from the Gunnison and Crested Butte area, which has suffered a significant loss of air service into its primary airport, the Gunnison Regional Air- port. Gunnison/Crested Butte is consider- ing contributing money to Allegiant ser- vice in an effort to pool resources and im- prove regional airline access; a decision is expected within the next couple of weeks.

Leaders from Montrose, Telluride and the Town of Mountain Village stand before Allegiant Air banners at the Montrose Regional Airport Tuesday morning following the announcement of Allegiant’s contract for bi-weekly flights into the Montrose region.From left to right: Jesse Smith Montrose County Manager, Ron Henderson, Montrose County Commissioner, David White, Chair, Montrose Board of County Commissioners, Gary Ellis, Vice Chair, Montrose Board of County Commissioners, Lloyd Arnold, Director of Aviation, Montrose Regional Airport, Stu Fraser, Mayor of Telluride, Bob Saunders, Telluride Council Member, Larry Mallard, Chairman of Telluride Tourism Board, Dirk de Pagter, Chairman of TMRAO, Kim Montgomery, Mountain Village Town Manager, Rick Houston, Vice Chairman of TMRAO, Carol McDermott, Montrose City Council Member, Judy Ann Files, Mont- rose Mayor Pro Tem. Sandy Head, MEDC, TMRAO Board Member.

“Allegiant is a great fit for the region and we are thrilled to have them as our new airline partner,” Arnold said. “The com- munity of Montrose has been very sup- portive of recent terminal improvements that will ensure Allegiant’s customers have a warm welcome and comfortable experi- ence as an introduction to the hospitality of our region.”

The Colorado Department of Transporta- tion estimates the total economic activity impact to the region from air service to the Montrose and Telluride airports is more than $470 million annually.

For more information on TMRAO, visit www.flytelluride-montrose.com. For a complete flight schedule, visit allegi- antair.com.