Aspen-Pitkin County Airport Director Jim Elwood has announced his resignation to take a similar position at Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming, Pitkin County announced Thursday.
Elwood plans to remain in his current position through the end of August.
“It’s not without a heavy heart that I leave the Aspen airport after 13 wonderful years,” Elwood said in an interview with The Aspen Times. “Sometimes opportunities come along, and you have to pay attention to them. This was one of those opportunities.
“I’ve had my eye on the Jackson Hole Airport for many years. I knew a long time ago I wanted to work there. That airport has some very special qualities. It’s the only airport inside a national park, which makes for some unique rules there.”
A statement from Pitkin County noted that “while Elwood’s resignation comes at a critical time of future planning for the entire airport operation, his departure will not impact the progress of Phase III of the Future Air Service Study now underway. During the national search for Elwood’s replacement, current assistant directors of aviation administration and operations Brian Grefe and Dustin Havel will report to County Manager Jon Peacock as they temporarily step into the airport director’s role.”
Elwood said there was really no good time to leave Aspen.
“In the 13 years I’ve worked in here, there has never been a perfect time to leave,” Elwood said. “I really do regret leaving some of these projects before getting to see the end product, but we often can’t dictate timing. The projects that are taking place at the Aspen airport are much, much bigger than one individual. I’m totally confident the existing team at the airport will be very productive.”
Elwood is a career airport professional, having worked as an executive in airports for the past 22 years. Prior to coming to Aspen, he was director of the Eagle County Regional Airport. Elwood is also one of 500 professionally accredited airport executives in the country, and he has a bachelor’s degree in aviation management with a minor in business.
His current salary as airport director is $130,402 a year.
“This is a great opportunity for Jim in the state where he first started his career,” said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock. “I can’t say enough nice things about Jim. He’s done a great job for our community.”
Elwood’s first job in airport management was at the Cheyenne Regional Airport in Wyoming as an assistant manager.
Peacock said Elwood has seen some attractive opportunities and was always upfront about looking at other job situations.
“This move wasn’t a surprise,” Peacock said. “Jim let us know whenever he applied at another job. We have a strong team at the airport, and we’re committed to keeping our projects moving forward. We’ll put together a national recruitment for a new airport director and would think it will be a four- to five-month process. We’re obviously disappointed to see Jim leave, but we wish him all the best.”
In a prepared statement, Peacock said: “His are big shoes to fill, but Pitkin County is committed to working with our community partners in securing strategic air-service options in the changing air-carrier environment.
“It will be tough finding someone with the passion and dedication for our airport that Jim has exemplified during his time with Pitkin County. His work at the local, state and national level on behalf of our airport has helped us accomplish much and will endure as we forge ahead with plans to ensure our airport’s success into the future.”