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Soaring to New heights YMM to Denver and Beyond

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Why Denver?

There has been a lot of excitement lately in regards to the Fort McMurray Airport (YMM). With a brand-new airport terminal currently on the way (scheduled to open in June 2014), the current YMM terminal is bursting at the seams and it just got a little busier. On June 7, United Airlines was welcomed to our little big piece of the world with a direct flight to Denver, Colorado. This adds Canadian customs, another airline counter, and international baggage to an already busy terminal. All worth it, though, from what I can tell.

But why Denver?

Well, because it’s a major hub for United Airlines. Denver International (DEN) is America’s fifth largest airport terminal and is growing every year.

“Denver was selected as Fort McMurray’s first U.S. destination because of our unique geographical location in the centre of the U.S. and it’s robust network,” said Denver International Airport Manager of Aviation Kim Day. “Denver International is vibrant, strong, and growing, and we are very pleased to become Fort McMurray’s gateway to the world.”

SkyWest Airlines will operate the United Express scheduled service from YMM to DEN daily. The flights will operate with CRJ-700 aircraft with 66-seat capacity: six seats in United First Class, 28 seats in EconoPlus (definitely worth the added leg room at a comfortable $49* price tag!) and 32 seats in economy.

A flight that has me in Las Vegas by noon? My bags are packed already and I bet I’m not the only one.

Use It or Lose It!

Denver flights can take you global, easy, fast and cheap! Be sure to take advantage of the flight service and enjoy!

The connection to DEN provides travel opportunities to more than 180 destinations around the world. That will be a huge help to the thousands of commuters we have in town, as well as all our imports from countries all over the world trying to visit their friends and families.

In 2012, over 958,000 passengers traveled through Fort McMurray Airport, including 129,000 passengers on oil sands related flights. This makes YMM the fastest-growing airport in Canada over the last 10 years from a passenger count perspective and, with 30% growth in 2013, YMM continues to be the leader in terms of passenger growth in Canada.

With such high numbers, it is expected that the United flights will be in high demand and well-used. Time will tell, but it certainly doesn’t escape the old adage – use it or lose it! So get out there, book your flights, and enjoy having an international destination on the YMM roster.

What next at YMM?

Scheduled to open on June 9, 2014, the new Fort McMurray Airport terminal building will very clearly redefine air travel in our region. Not only will it be easier and faster to move through, customers will experience new services, retail, and much more dining options. Everything from Chocolates and Candlelight to Mary Brown’s Famous Chicken and Earls Kitchen & Bar will be available to the traveller.

With over 15,000 square meters of space inside the new terminal building, YMM will be ready to go to handle even more international flights. More flights throughout the day will increase capacity and allow for more comfort in the waiting areas.

Like everything else in the Fort McMurray mantra – “think big” seems to apply to the airport. The entire expansion is the size of 2.5 Canadian football fields and they are already starting to plan for other expansions in the future.

Highly Connected…

Depart on a nonstop flight from YMM to Denver at 6:00am and connections will have you in:
Las Vegas by noon
Houston by 1:40pm
Los Angeles by noon
Phoenix by 12:45pm
Orlando by 4:00pm
New York (LaGuardia) by 4:00pm
Hawaii by 4:00pm
Chicago by 2:30pm

Making The Dream A Reality
by Scott Clements

Air service development is a challenging and demanding function for any airport.... sort of black art. It’s all about building relationships that need to last months, even years, before producing any results. And it is having the credibility that you understand the business planning cycles and opportunities for airlines in your market. It is normal for airports to bring those opportunities to airlines and not the other way around. So it was quite a surprise to me that early in our first year of operations as an airport authority, I got a call from Martin Kammerman, a senior manager in United Airlines network planning department. He said, “Scott, we’re looking at Fort McMurray and we would like you to come to Chicago to discuss adding a nonstop route to the US.” While at first I thought it was a prank call, fortunately it became clear that this was the real deal and United wanted us in their Chicago headquarters to meet.

We had a great case where United could offer nonstop service and be very successful in our market. However, these things do not happen overnight. It took over a year to secure the nonstop service to Denver, including convincing Canada Border Services Agencys that we had the business case, preparing our small terminal for the international operations, and finally getting the commitment from United Airlines. Special credit goes to Mr. Jim Meyer of SNC-Lavalin, a long time colleague, who is one of the best in the “black art” of dealing with airline business development processes. It was a long road to secure Fort McMurray’s first nonstop service to the United States. Now it is up to the community to support this service and make sure that it is successful. Consider flying on United’s nonstop service to Denver when booking your next trip to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Houston, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles or beyond; you won’t be disappointed.

Ten Things to Know About Denver…

Take advantage of the new direct flight to Denver and don’t just fly through. Here are some Interesting facts about what makes Denver unique from the folks who know it best.

{slider=1. Denver has 300 days of annual sunshine.}

Located east of a major mountain range, Denver has a mild, dry, and sunny climate with more annual hours of sun than San Diego or Miami Beach. In winter, Denver is dryer than Phoenix with an average daily high of 45F degrees in February. Golf courses remain open all year and have been played as many as 30 days in January. Denver receives only 14 inches of precipitation a year – about the same as Los Angeles.

{/slider} {slider=2. Denver’s arts and cultural scene is thriving.}

In its Old West days, Denver had a performance of Macbeth before it had a school or a hospital. That performance took place in a saloon. Today, Metro Denver collects more for the arts on a per capita basis than any other city. The seven county Denver metro area has a self-imposed 10th of a cent sales tax for the arts that raises more than $40 million a year, which is distributed to 300 arts organizations and facilities.

The city’s cultural renaissance can be found in places like the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Covering four square blocks, the complex is the second largest in the country, with 10 theatres seating more than 10,000 people for opera, symphony, ballet, Tony Award-winning theatre, and touring Broadway shows.

{/slider} {slider=3. Denver is near the mountains, not in them.}

Denver is located on high rolling plains, 12 miles east of the “foothills,” a series of gentle mountains that climb to 11,000 feet. Just beyond is the “Front Range of the Rocky Mountains,” a series of formidable snow-capped peaks that rise to 14,000 feet. Denver might not be in the mountains, but the mountains still dominate the city. The picturesque mountain panorama from Denver is 140 miles long. There are 200 visible named peaks including 32 that soar to 13,000 feet and above.

{/slider} {slider=4. Denver is a city of many colours and cultures.}

Denver grew by 30 per cent in the 1990s – an average of 1,000 new residents a week, every week for 10 years. In this period, the Hispanic population in Colorado increased by 73 per cent. Today, 32 percent of the City of Denver is of Hispanic and Latino descent and 11 per cent are African American. Denver’s diversity is celebrated at numerous festivals and events, including the nation’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration and the largest Martin Luther King Jr. march and rally, referred to the locals as a “marade”. Denver has a population of 594,740, while there are 2.7 million people in the metro area.

{/slider} {slider=5. Denver’s history is short, but colourful.}

In 1858, there was not a single person living in the Denver metro area except for some migrating camps of Arapaho and Cheyenne Native Americans. Just 30 years later, Colorado was a state with a population of almost 200,000. It was a Gold Rush that caused this boom and in a 30 to 40 year period Denver saw some of the wildest events in the “Wild West.” This fascinating period is brought to life at museums, old gold mining towns, and in hundreds of elegant Victorian buildings. LoDo, a 26 square block historic district, has the largest concentration of Victorian and turn-of-the-century buildings in the country. Today, LoDo is home to 90 brewpubs, jazz cafes, restaurants, sports bars, and nightclubs.

{/slider} {slider=6. Denver loves its sports.}

Denver is one of only two cities (Philadelphia is the other) to have seven professional sports teams: NFL Denver Broncos; NBA Denver Nuggets; NHL Colorado Avalanche; MLB Colorado Rockies; MLS Colorado Rapids; MLL Colorado Outlaws; and NLL Colorado Mammoth. The Colorado Rockies have 11 Major League Baseball attendance records, while the Denver Broncos have sold out every game for more than 20 years. Denver also hosts one of the world’s largest rodeos – the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo. Denver is the only city to build three new sports stadiums in the 1990s: 50,000-seat Coors Field; 75,000-seat INVESCO Field at Mile High, and 20,000-seat Pepsi Centre.

{/slider} {slider=7. Denver brews more beer than any other city}

The first building in Denver was a saloon, so it’s natural that Denver would become a great beer town. Coors Brewery is the world’s largest. Denver’s Great American Beer Festival is the largest in the nation, with more than 1,900 different beers. The Wynkoop Brewing Company is one of the largest brewpubs in the country. On an average day, Denver brews more than 200 different beers. Why is Denver the “Napa Valley of Beer”? Well, just as the water tumbling down from the Scottish Highlands has made Scotland a renowned center for whiskey, the great taste of Rocky Mountain spring water provides a key basic ingredient for the city’s booming beer brewing industry.

{/slider} {slider=8. Denver - The Mile High City, really is exactly one mile high}

By an amazing stroke of good luck, the 13th step on the west side of the State Capitol Building is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level – one mile high. In Denver’s rarified air, golf balls go 10 per cent farther. So do cocktails. Alcoholic drinks pack more of a punch than at sea level. The sun feels warmer, because you are closer to it and there is 25 per cent less protection from the sun, so sunscreen is a must. The Mile High City is also extremely dry, so it is a good idea to drink more water than usual. With less water vapour in the air at this altitude, the sky really is bluer in Colorado.

{/slider} {slider=9. Denver has the 10th largest downtown in the United States}

Unlike some Western cities, Denver has a definitive, exciting, and walkable downtown – the 10th largest in the nation. Within just a one mile radius, there are three sports stadiums, the country’s second largest performing arts complex, an assortment of art and history museums, a mint producing 10 billion coins a year, a river offering whitewater rafting, the country’s only downtown amusement park, a new world-class aquarium, more than 8,000 hotel rooms, and more than 300 restaurants, brewpubs, and music clubs.

{/slider} {slider=10. Denver has the most unique city park system in the country}

Denver has more than 200 parks within the city and 14,000 acres of parks in the nearby mountains, including spectacular Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Other mountain parks include Echo Lake, at the base of the Mount Evans highway – the highest road in North America and Buffalo Bill’s Grave on top of Lookout Mountain. There are more than 800 miles of off-street bike paths, 90 golf courses, and one of the nation’s largest urban trail systems. Due to all of these recreational opportunities, a federal study found that Denver has the thinnest residents of any major U.S. city.


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