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Access the critical issue

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:Some of the people at the Snowmass Village proposal meeting made a good point about the airport and access to Aspen (Aspen Times, July 28), which was too easily dismissed.In my unofficial surveys of friends who come to Aspen and love it, the overwhelming negative comment is about the time it takes to get here and the lack of airlines servicing the airport. There is virtually no competition for United Express, so they are free to charge whatever they want and to give any kind of service they want.The planes they use are getting so old, half the time the lavatories are out of order and many other parts of the plane are falling apart. We need a longer runway to be able to use newer planes, which other airlines own. We are being left totally out of the loop with all the new low-cost airlines.My friends point out that you can fly just about anywhere in the United States now for under $400, except to Aspen. Utah is vigorously promoting their ski areas, which are very easy and cheap to get to from Salt Lake City. It costs $200 to get there from San Francisco or Los Angeles, then an easy ride to the ski resorts. People are going to Breckenridge not just because of the new buildings (as stated at the Snowmass meeting), but because it is easy and cheap to get there from Denver. As opposed to what was stated at the meeting, most people who fly to Vail will stay at Vail or a nearby area; they are not so thrilled with Aspen that they will fly to Denver, fly to Vail, then take a third trip in a car for several hours.If all these new buildings and timeshares are going to be constructed, they are not going to be occupied unless the transportation to this area is greatly improved. I had several friends contemplating purchasing timeshares here, but they decided against it because of the transportation problems.And let’s not forget Aspen’s dirty little secret: The airport isn’t just a problem in the winter. Every flight I have had a friend or relative on this summer has had to lighten its load by forcing passengers to give up their seats. The planes can’t get enough lift with their full load when its hot outside because the runway is too short.Access to this area is the critical issue unless you want to see the ghost town of Snowmass as a tourist attraction.Geraldine WhitmanAspen


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