JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. While the direct flight programs in resort towns of the West are strongest during ski season, a real estate insert in the Jackson Hole News & Guide also makes clear that its not just tourists who use the jets. Reliable, year-round air service is also crucial to selling homes.
"Truly, you can make the case that from a homebuyers standpoint, this is a big selling point," says Mike Gierau, chairman of JH Air, a not-for-profit that uses subsidies to nurture and sustain Jackson Holes air service. The subsidy is currently $1.06 million.
A central goal of the program has been to boost year-round activity. "Two years ago, most airlines stopped coming after Labour Day," Gierau says. "Each day past Sept. 15 helps visitors, but it really helps the locals. Theres not a large visitor rush in November, but its the time a lot of locals go on vacation. Second-home owners and other local folks now have more choices."
Town of Jackson, Teton County and Wyoming state governments all chip in on the subsidies, but three-quarters of the money comes from businesses. Those businesses include the three ski resorts in and near Jackson Hole and the central reservations agency, but also realty agencies. Sothebys International Realty chipped in more than $30,000.
January flights lose money
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. Crested Butte this winter substantially increased the number of airplane seats available into the resort-area airport, and through December the gamble paid off. The jets were 86 per cent booked.
But January is another matter. It always is. "We will lose money in January," air consultant Kent Myers recently told transportation board members in the Gunnison-Crested Butte area. "Its just a matter of how much well lose."
Low bookings last year cost the tax-supported agency $500,000 in January to the airlines, which require revenue guarantees. Myers acknowledged it could lose $600,000 this year.
To minimize the losses going into March, Crested Butte will be offering package deals that start at $169 a day. That cost includes lift tickets, lodging, airfare, and airport shuttles, according to the Crested Butte News.
Odds getting better for single men
VAIL, Colo. Everybody knows how bad the odds are for single guys in ski towns, right? But as baby boomers hit 60, the dynamic is starting to change. Ski towns are full of single women although not exactly young things.
"There are a lot of older, single women up here, Ive heard," said Mary Jane Sloat, 62, who moved to Avon last year to be near her daughter. She said she retired early because she wanted to live in the mountains while shes still vigorous.