DURANGO, Colo. — A manager for United Airlines has apologized for unreliable service in Durango that has prompted some passengers to leave a day early just to make connecting flights.
Senior United Express manager Alicia Gabriel told the Durango-La Plata Airport Commission on Thursday that the airline's on-time departures and arrivals have been erratic and she said improvements are already under way.
Some customers told Gabriel they have gotten used to leaving a day early to make their destinations on time because they cannot rely on United. Others said they were annoyed that United flights from Durango land at the far end of the terminal in Denver, making for long treks and dashes to connecting flights.
Gabriel told the commission the "worst is behind us," but she also acknowledged the frustrations, the Durango Herald reported Friday (http://tinyurl.com/n8ogtum).
"We know we hurt you in 2013," she told the commission. "Our intent is not to relive that for 2014. ... We're going to keep working at it until we find what works."
Gabriel said Republic, its regional carrier, has faced many operational challenges, including turbojets that need extra attention and maintenance.
The airline has been in a constant hiring-and-training mode to have the staffing to comply with new federal guidelines requiring more pilot training and rest between flights.
Kip Turner, director of aviation for Durango-La Plata Airport, said he did not think United's problems were unique to Durango.
"In their defense, I think they're doing all they can," Turner said.
Local business leaders said they would also like to see more destinations.
Julia Levy, director of government and public relations for BP's Rocky Mountain region, asked for a direct flight to Houston.
She said she was surprised that other mountain towns that are more leisure travel destinations have flights to Houston, but not Durango, which has so much gas and oil and more of a business connection to Houston.
Information from: Durango Herald, http://www.durangoherald.com