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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2004


Chamber campaign promotes non-stop flight service

Subsidies to Horizon to expand beyond Sun Valley Co.

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau is seeking community support for non-stop Horizon Air flights to the Wood River Valley from Oakland and Los Angeles next winter.

The first year of the new service was subsidized by a federal grant, but in subsequent years the service has been dependent on local service. The Los Angeles flight service commenced in December 2002 and continued through last March. The Oakland service was offered for the first time last winter.

For last winterís contract with the Seattle-based airline, Sun Valley Co. paid Horizon approximately $194,000 in subsides to maintain the program. This year the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau hopes to garner support from more corners of the community through a raffle of season ski passes and donations solicited from local businesses and other organizations.

Like many other destination resort communities, Sun Valley Resort has secured non-stop service through a Minimum Revenue Guarantee (MRG) with Horizon Air. The MRG, a guarantee of revenues to the airline, is a common way for resort destinations to enhance their air service from key markets. The MRG is usually funded through a partnership with the ski resort company, local businesses, and sometimes even local governments.

Crested Butte, Jackson Hole, Steamboat Springs, Vail and Telluride all have community-wide MRG programs that are in excess of $1 million dollars annually, which bring in flights from key markets to their destinations.

The Sun Valley effort was considered a success for the 2003 - 2004 winter season. However, last year the Sun Valley Resort bore the full cost of the MRG, $164,000 for the revenue shortfall and $30,000 for diversion busing costs.

A survey of passengers conducted by the SV/K CVB in March 2004 showed that over 30 percent of passengers on the California routes were new visitors to the area. The new service not only brought new visitors, it provides more convenient access to residents traveling out of the valley, SV/K CVB representatives said.

Many business owners recognize the importance of providing convenient air access to stimulate new business, said SV/K CVB representatives. Since the entire community benefits from enhanced air service, the SV/K CVB is spearheading an effort to raise $100,000 from Wood River Valley businesses, organizations, and the community at-large to support 50 percent of the anticipated Horizon Air MRG program costs in partnership with Sun Valley Resort.

The effort will be a two-part program. A raffle for 15 Sun Valley Resort 2004-2005 season passes, valued at $1850 each, will take place throughout the summer and fall. Tickets will be sold for $20 each or three for $50, and will be sold at events by the SV/K CVB staff, board, Ambassadorís Council, Blaine County Air Transportation Advisory Group, and other local area groups.

Certain retail outlets throughout the valley, primarily ski/sporting good retailers, will also be asked to participate in selling raffle tickets. The goal is to sell 3,000 raffle tickets and raise $50,000. The drawing for the 15 season pass winners will be held at the joint Ketchum/Sun Valley & Hailey Chamber Business After Hours (BAH) in October.

The SV/K CVB board of directors will also request voluntary financial support directly from local businesses and organizations, ranging from $100 - $1000 depending on the type and size of the business. The goal of this portion of the program is to raise an additional $50,000. Any money collected from either the raffle or the business and organization support program that is not needed to fund 50 percent of the actual MRG amount due in April will be held in a special SV/K CVB reserve fund for future air service support programs.

Next winter, service from California will begin Dec. 18 on 70-passenger Q400 high-speed turboprops and run through March 26.

The service is already available for booking, with current rates as low as $257 roundtrip from Los Angeles and $299 roundtrip from Oakland. The fares are priced slightly higher than fares on SkyWest, a Delta connection service through Salt Lake City, to the same markets. The expectation is that travelers will pay a higher price for the convenience of non-stop service.


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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.