Pitkin County airport officials are projecting to spend over 20 percent more to operate the facility in 2012 than they did this year — an increase of $1.3 million.
The increased costs, airport director Jim Elwood explained, result largely from the recently-completed 1,000-foot runway extension.
Airport revenues are expected to rise by more than 9 percent in 2012.
The biggest chunk of dollars in the rising budget go toward maintaining and plowing the county’s expanded airfield. Those specific costs are expected to go up $643,000 from last year, to $1.8 million.
“The runway extension adds 14 percent to our surface pavement,” Elwood said after a meeting with the county commissioners Tuesday. “So expenses are up because of that.”
The county also is anticipating an 11 percent rise in expenses for maintaining its aging terminal, which is in the midst of a public master planning process and may be replaced.
Spending is projected to go up in every category the airport keeps track of, for budgeting purposes, other than security.
The extension has been touted by tourism officials as a key economic driver for the Aspen area, as it will allow for full planes and more passengers arriving in town. Even before it opened last week, it is believed to have been a large contributing factor to bringing American Airlines service to the airport, which was announced in July and is scheduled to begin running Dec. 15.
Airport and county officials are hosting a ribbon-cutting for the extension today.
The extension cost more than $15 million, most of it coming from federal grant money.
Airport operations are funded by landing fees and other self-generated income, not from the county’s general fund.
The airport projects $7.7 million in operating revenue for 2012. That’s up from $7.1 million this year.
The biggest chunk of that income, $3.1 million, will come from airlines who pay fees to use the airport. As more flights and as many as 12,000 additional passengers are expected to fly in and out of Aspen this year, courtesy of the runway extension, revenue from fees will increase about 17 percent from this year.
The second largest cash generator for the airport is private plane fees, which make up 23 percent of the budget at $1.8 million. However, private plane traffic has dropped off in recent years, going down more than 4 percent in 2011 over 2010, Elwood said. The private jet airfield often appears full from Highway 82, Elwood said, because jets have gotten bigger as fewer of them come to town.
Still, there have been 12,725 private jet trips to Aspen this year, so far.
The rest of the airport’s operating revenue comes from rental cars, $1.6 million; concessions, $511,000, and parking, $525,000.