In another effort to lure more passengers, the Colorado Springs Airport will join a national program Friday that rewards customers with airline miles or hotel points for every dollar they spend on airport parking, dining or shopping.
Enrolled participants will receive two hotel points or one airline mile for every $1 they spend with any airport vendor. To receive the points or miles, consumers can enroll up to five credit cards they will use at participating merchants.
The airport expects to spend up to $36,000 a year on the program: $1,000 a month to pay Thanks Again LLC to administer the program, and up to $2,000 a month in fees paid on each transaction.
Thanks Again started the program in 2004 and pays its rewards through the Hilton HHonors program and frequent flier programs of American, Delta and United airlines, as well as Alaska Airlines, which plans to launch nonstop service in November between the Springs and Seattle.
More than 50 Colorado Springs-area restaurants, golf courses and spas as well as 170 other U.S. airports and 20,000 businesses participate in the nationwide program. Denver International Airport is among the participants, but just one of its merchants, InMotion Entertainment, offers the rewards, while every restaurant, retail shop and parking provider at the Springs airport will take part.
The Thanks Again program is the latest in a series of initiatives by airport officials to persuade more southern Colorado residents to take flights from the Springs airport rather than driving to DIA.
Earlier this year, the Springs airport began validating one hour of parking for customers who spend at least $12 at the airport's restaurants or $30 at its retail shops. The airport also moved its valet parking area to an unused ticket counter from the east end of passenger terminal, reducing the distance that travelers have to walk.
"This kick-off marks the launch of the airport's upcoming new marketing program designed to increase the value proposition of flying (from Colorado Springs) and thank airport users," John McGinley, the airport's assistant director for operations and maintenance, said in a statement Wednesday announcing the airport's participation in Thanks Again.
The airport also wants to spend $233,596 to build a business center and lounge near Gate 6 in the terminal's main passenger concourse to serve business travelers and other frequent fliers - a move requested by airlines to help them better attract and retain business travelers. Airport officials are negotiating with its restaurant operator, SSP America, to operate the center and lounge and offer beverage service. The lounge would be packaged with valet parking and access to a premium security screening line for a per-use fee or free to first-class passengers.
Passenger numbers at the airport have plunge in the wake of Frontier Airlines' exit from the Springs in April. Airport officials are forecasting passenger traffic will fall this year to a 22-year low. That projection, however, was made before Alaska Airlines announced its plans to expand to the Springs.
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