There has been a lot of discussion around the airport lately, although in reading the papers, you might have missed it. There seems to be a media drought around it locally. The Aspen Airport Board and the Pitkin BOCC seem to be stuck in the same debate they have historically proposed. We will “run out” of available airplanes suitable to fly into Aspen and provide the 17% of commercial flights that serve the bulk of our community.
This article (“Future jet choices slim without new runway,” The Aspen Times, Sept. 5, 2018) clearly states “The current commercial jets that service the Aspen airport are called Bombardier CRJ700s. Currently, no American or Canadian airlines have more of those Canadian-manufactured jets on order, and they will begin to reach the end of their lifespans in about 2023, Dunkelberg said.”
Well, it’s 2023 and there is no end in sight for the use of these planes. SkyWest was forecasted to retire half of them by a year ago and all by 2025, but has actually retired zero. The county’s own top technical consultant on aviation disputes this. Thus, the most basic parameter underlying the push for bigger planes was misforecast by decades; the argument for reconfiguring the runway and taxiway to allow larger planes was based on inaccurate information. It brings into question what other information we might have gotten wrong and what other misinformation we are still hearing that will set our airport strategy and size. For information on this debate, go to https://aspenflyright.org.