Some 7,500 airline passengers who fly from Phoenix to ski and ride at Telluride Mountain Resort will have to make other plans this winter.
US Airways, which has been making daily flights from Sky Harbor Airport to Telluride Regional for a half-dozen years, announced in September that the service would be discontinued. Despite claiming the route was profitable, US Airways officials told the Telluride Daily Planet that the fleet of aircraft used in the Phoenix-Telluride market had to be relocated. They contend that plans are in the works to reestablish the route in the future, but likely not this winter, according to the Planet.
Some 500 tickets already have been booked from the Valley of the Sun to Telluride's box canyon this winter, which airline officials said would be honored on another airline. Currently, only Great Lakes Airlines has daily flights scheduled into Telluride Regional, from Denver International Airport. United Airlines operates from Phoenix to Montrose Regional Airport—about an hour and a half drive from Telluride. Montrose handles 95 percent of Telluride's visitors that arrive by air, with direct service from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and Newark.
United Airlines reportedly gained more slots for the Phoenix route in Montrose, but Telluride officials continue to look for direct runs into their airstrip, which is within sight of the mountain’s slopes and trails. Any carrier must have aircrafts and pilots that can land at the commercial airport’s 9,070-foot elevation—said to be the highest in the United States—and shorter, 7,000-foot runway.
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