Kick in on flight costs
Local businesses should help pay for
airline seat subsidies that help bring visitors to the Wood River Valley.
Last year Sun Valley Company laid down
$164,000 to subsidize air tickets on direct flights by Horizon Airlines from Los
Angeles and Oakland, Calif. It also paid $30,000 to bus passengers that would
have been left stranded otherwise when planes were downed during bad weather.
The subsidies are a gamble each year. If
the airline fills every seat on every flight, Sun Valley pays nothing. If the
seats arenít filled, Sun Valley Co. is on the hook for up to $600,000. Itís a
share-the-risk program, in which the airline alone doesnít lose.
The subsidized direct flights are helping
the Wood River Valley compete with other mountain resorts that have more
convenient, more frequent and more heavily subsidized air service.
For example, Vail Resorts last year paid
$1.3 million to airlines. It paid $2 million the year before. It commits up to
$10 million a year in its annual gamble.
The Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and
Visitors Bureau estimates that of the passengers who flew the direct flights
last year, over 30 percent were new visitors. It has launched a keep-Ďem-flying
campaign and aims to raise a modest $100,000 from local businesses for a
New and returning visitors benefit all
businesses in the Wood River Valley, not just Sun Valley Company. Itís time all
businesses shoulder their fair share of the burden by contributing generously.