Vt. Puts Money Into Ski Season Airline Service
09/20/12 5:50PM By Steve Zind  Download MP3
This week, Vermont officials announced plans to continue a partnership with a Canadian airline that brings skiers from Toronto to Burlington.
The state is putting tourism dollars behind the effort in hopes of expanding it in the future.
This is the second year that Porter Airlines is offering round trip flights between Toronto and Burlington.
There will be four weekly flights from mid-December until early April.
The flights are part of a three way partnership involving the state, the airlines and the Vermont Ski Areas Association.
The deal, which hasn't been finalized yet, involves the state ponying up $100,000 to advertise the service and Vermont as a destination in the Toronto market. Lawrence Miller is Secretary of the Agency Of Commerce And Community Development.
"We want it to be successful," says Miller." Let's be clear. We really want Porter to put as many butts in seats as possible."
Miller says spending state or local tourism dollars to help promote an airline's business is standard practice and it's highly competitive. He says that's what was behind the recent decision by Jet Blue to suspend flights between Burlington and Orlando, Florida, "Because they got an offer from somebody else and we weren't going to match it."
Four Vermont ski areas; Sugarbush, Stowe, Smugglers Notch and Jay Peak are contributing an additional $50,000 to help advertise the Porter Airlines flights in the Toronto market.
Parker Riehle, President of the Vermont Ski Areas Association says last winter roughly 2,000 passengers took advantage of the service and 80 percent of them came to ski. This winter Porter has doubled the number of flights and Riehle says there are plans to extend the service beyond the ski season.
"The hope is that they will get enough traction and development to pursue a summertime schedule for next year. That's definitely on the books and in the works with Porter," Riehle explains.
Toronto is one of the fastest growing cities in North America and the state is also spending economic development money there, both to attract Canadian business to Vermont and expand the market for Vermont products.