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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Our View

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 seat-subsidy program.

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.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.