Drive time needed for cheaper airfares

More providers lower Durango costs

Wanting to get away will cost a few more dollars for those not willing to travel more than 100 miles roundtrip to an airport.

Residents wishing to fly to Denver can save more than $200 if they choose to use the Durango-LaPlata County Airport rather than flying out of Cortez.

A roundtrip flight from Durango to Denver with two weeks notice can cost less than $150, while a flight from Cortez to Denver with the same advance notice can cost around $350.

Flying out of the Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington to Denver with the two-week notice is similar to Cortez prices.

The costs decrease at all three airports if reservations are made at least 30 days in advance of the flight.

The Durango-LaPlata County Airport fees for a Denver roundtrip for the month of January have been listed at a little more than $100, while a Denver roundtrip from Cortez start out at $194.

The Four Corners Regional Airport remains the most expensive of the three when looking at flights to the Mile High City at a roundtrip cost of about $205 when reserving the flight at least 30 days in advance.

Cortez Airport Manager Russ Machen said the airport is operated through the Essential Air Service program and is subleased in order to be allowed to offer passenger flights.

Machen said the reasoning behind what Durango and Cortez airports charge is a simple one.

The Cortez airport has three flights a day to Denver through Great Lakes Airlines and it is the only carrier that services Cortez.

Machen said the Durango airport offers about 20 times the number of flights.

He also said the Durango-LaPlata County Airport has four carriers - Frontier, United, American Eagle and U.S. Airways.

Machen said the four airlines result in competition to lure travelers, which results in lower prices. Frontier and United are currently the only two airlines that currently charge less than $150 for a roundtrip flight to Denver.

"It's a bigger airport and a bigger population," he said.

Machen previously said there are three daily flights from Cortez to Denver and its airport provides service to about 8,000 passengers a year.

In comparison, Machen has said the Durango-La Plata County Airport draws about 100,000 passengers a year, while the Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington serves between 40,000 to 45,000 passengers annually.

Machen said he does not know how Great Lakes sets its fees and referred those questions to Great Lakes Airlines.

Calls to a Great Lakes Airlines manager were not returned.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com