ASPEN, Colorado - The Aspen-Pitkin County Airport posted its busiest January in a decade last month.
Commercial airline enplane-ments - people getting on a plane - totaled 32,381 for the month, up from 27,084 in January 2009, and 28,630 in January 2008, according to figures released last week.
Last month's total also eclipsed the 29,096 enplanements recorded in January 2006 - the next highest total for the month in the past decade.
"I think it has been the bargains - there's an upside to our airfares being very, very competitive," said Jim Elwood, director of aviation at the airport.
Lower airfares were fueled by both an airline response to the recession and competition on the Aspen-Den-ver route once Frontier Airlines entered the market in the spring of 2008; and those prices have appar-ently led more travelers to fly direct-ly in and out of Aspen, rather than seeking a cheaper fare by, for exam-ple, flying in and out of Denver and driving to and from the resort.
In addition, the local airport has seen increased use by Aspen- area residents who once headed for Grand Junction, Eagle or Denver to fly, seeking less expensive fares.
In 2009, the airport saw a slight drop in passenger boardings while the U.S. airline industry as a whole saw numbers sag by 6 percent. Nearly 220,000 passengers boarded commercial flights in Aspen last year, according to the airport.