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TMCNet:  Colorado Springs Airport plans marketing campaign for Alaska Airlines service [The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)]

[December 12, 2013]

Colorado Springs Airport plans marketing campaign for Alaska Airlines service [The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)]

(Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 13--Alaska Airlines entered the Colorado Springs market with a splash at the beginning of November, and its daily flights between Colorado Springs and Seattle averaged 62 percent capacity for the month.

It's a good start, say officials with the airline and Colorado Springs Airport, but they want to improve that number.

"They have said they hope they would hit the same (capacity) as Denver, and that is around 80 percent," Neil Ralston, interim assistant director of Aviation for Planning and Development, told the mayor's Airport Air Service Task Force on Thursday.

To reach that goal, Alaska Airlines will begin a marketing campaign when next month to draw attention to its Seattle route.

The airport, along with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, will also spend about $60,000 to advertise the airline on radio, billboards and other media, said Dan Gallagher, interim director of aviation.

The money for the airport's ad campaign is coming from revenue created by Alaska Airlines, he said. Gallagher said the airport has a verbal agreement with the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau to evenly split the cost of the ad campaign. But CVB money could be in jeopardy if the Colorado Springs City Council reduces the amount of money the organization gets from the city.

Gallagher told the task force that several airline officials are keeping tabs on the issue.

"The airlines are concerned about us cutting marketing," he said.

Airport officials want to boost the number of passengers flying on Alaska out of Colorado Springs, which would not only improve that airline's profitability, but the bottom line of all commercial carriers using the facility. Air carriers share the cost of operating flights at the airport, so when one airline's revenues increase, operating costs decrease for all carriers.

Passenger traffic at the airport has taken a nosedive this year with the spring exit of Frontier Airlines from the local market. Airport and city officials have been trying to boost business, and Mayor Steve Bach appointed the task force to find ways to persuade airlines to offer more flights at lower fares to more nonstop destinations.

On Thursday, airport officials updated the task force on strategies to draw customers to the city's airport, as well as the effectiveness of programs enacted earlier this year.

Airport officials have worked with commercial carriers to find possible new routes, change departure times for better connection times in other cities and reduce airline operations cost.

The operator that supplies aviation fuel to commercial airlines at the airport has agreed to temporarily eliminate certain fuel charges, Gallagher said. Those changes equate to about 11 cents per gallon, or $748 for 8,600 gallons of fuel -- the rounded-off amount held by the newest generations of Boeing-model aircraft flown by Alaska Airlines.

Airline and Airport officials hope to not only draw area travelers away from Denver International Airport, they are working to attract more military travelers.

"Air Force Academy senior cadets are researching cadet and parent and friend travel patterns to see if they can increase bookings at the airport, Ralston said.

Airport officials submitted a $14 million budget to the city for the upcoming fiscal year, about $2 million less than the historic amount, Gallagher said.

- Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275 ___ (c)2013 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Visit The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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