Yampa Valley Airport Increases Workforce to Meet Year-Round Flight Growth
Yampa Valley Regional Airport’s peak season, which reached a record high this year, is coming to an end.
Many flights bringing tourists from places like Boston, Los Angeles and Houston have come and gone, while others from Minneapolis, Atlanta and Chicago are winding down next week.
On April 11, the day after the slopes at Steamboat Ski Resort close, the airport will enter its offseason, where there are only flights to and from Denver.
But, as air travel continued to find its way amid the COVID-19 pandemic last summer, destinations like Steamboat with easy access to the outdoors were popular. United Airlines – the longtime carrier in Hayden – has increased flights and Southwest Airlines has added the Yampa Valley to its summer lineup.
Both are back this year.
Kevin Booth, airport manager, said the increased bustle at the airport throughout the year – 2021 has seen the most passengers ever and this year will likely end up beating it – will require d major personnel changes.
“It will help us both in the offseason and in the busy season,” Booth said.
On Tuesday, March 29, Routt County commissioners approved a series of personnel changes, adding full-time positions and adjusting some jobs to be year-round rather than seasonal positions.
“We are having a remarkable year attracting all these passengers to our community. I think we need to take care of these people while they are here,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said.
In 2020, the airport handled a total of around 91,000 passengers. Last year, that number rose to 153,000. Projections for this year show further growth, with 2022 expected to total more than 191,000 passengers.
The changes add two key positions. The airport will hire another full-time firefighter, a move that leaves Booth hoping to fill three part-time roles he has struggled to fill for months. Staff will also add an assistant security coordinator, doubling security capacity.
“I would say (the Transportation Security Administration) has upped its game on what it needs,” Booth said. “As we get busier, these continue to increase.”
Another change is to transform two part-time cook positions in the airport restaurant into full-time positions. In 2022, the restaurant is expected to make just under $1.2 million in sales. He did more than half of that in January and February alone.
Finally, Booth said he wanted to turn four seasonal positions in passenger services into part-time, year-round jobs. Booth said that in the past, just about everyone at the airport, including concierges and administrative staff, has participated in this role.
“Our passenger services did the work of a yeoman in the evenings,” Booth said. “They are our first line of defense if anything happens.”
Commissioners backed Booth’s demands, particularly because the airport is profitable for the county. He also pointed to planned increases in airport security and landing fees to pay for these additional expenses. For example, landing fees alone are expected to increase by about $400,000 this year, to about $1.5 million in 2022.
Routt County Executive Jay Harrington said he plans to review that endowment next spring to make sure it’s still appropriate.
“We grew up in a real airport, didn’t we?” Corrigan asked rhetorically.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email [email protected]