Yellowstone Airport

Yellowstone Airport on May 27, 2020, in West Yellowstone.

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Direct flights from Denver to West Yellowstone are planned to start this summer, the first new connection announced at the Yellowstone Airport in more than four decades.

United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines is scheduled to offer three flights a day — with midweek exceptions — June 3 to Sept. 29 from Denver International Airport to Yellowstone Airport at West Yellowstone, said Jeff Kadlec, the airport manager.

Flights between West Yellowstone to Denver are expected to be similar in travel time to a trip from Bozeman to Denver, Kadlec said. As of late April, the cheapest round-trip ticket prices ranged from $184 to $284, according to the airline’s online ticket portal.

But most traffic at the airport from its seasonal, once-a-day direct flights to and from Salt Lake International Airport is people traveling from other destinations, connecting in Utah and landing in West Yellowstone.

It’s difficult to predict how passengers will use the new flight to and from Denver, but Kadlec said it’s likely the connection will make way for more travelers from around the country.

“It’s exciting times,” Kadlec said. “(The flight to and from Denver) will really open up the east coast connections, we’ll get a whole new demographic of airline passenger market with United and customers loyal to them.”

The new flight means more traffic for the airport and, by extension, West Yellowstone. The airport, abbreviated as WYS, charges commercial landing fees, Kadlec said — and more commercial flights means more passengers who need rental vehicles, a place to stay and food to eat.

As Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport adds more direct flights and airlines, Kadlec said Yellowstone Airport at West Yellowstone is looking to capture some of the leisure-traveler market.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Kadlec said. “As people seem to want to social distance more, want to recreate in the outdoors, what better place than Yellowstone National Park?”

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Bret Hauff can be reached at bhauff@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2647.

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