Airline admits curfew violations

American Airlines aircraft (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP file photo

Lawyers for American Airlines told county officials Wednesday the company would take responsibility for two flights that took off after Aspen airport’s curfew this winter, a county official said Thursday.

“They are going to admit the curfew violations,” Pitkin County Attorney John Ely said.

The next step in the process will be determination of a monetary fine, he said. An independent hearing officer will hold a public hearing to determine the amount of the fine, Ely said.

Fines are capped at a maximum of $1,000 per curfew violation, Ely said.

Under rules established years ago, planes cannot take off from Aspen’s airport after 10:30 p.m. and cannot land after 11 p.m. Planes must wait until 7 a.m. to take off in the morning.

The only two exceptions to the rule are planes experiencing an in-flight emergency or medical reasons, including a sick passenger or life-flight situation, he said.

The two flights in question left Aspen heading for Los Angeles at 10:57 p.m. on Dec. 29 and 10:57 p.m. on Jan. 1, Ely has said.

American officials will have a chance to present their side of the story during the public hearing to determine the fine, he said.

Ellen Anderson, a resident of a neighborhood in the flight path and strong advocate for the curfew, said Thursday she was satisfied with American’s decision.

“From my standpoint, it’s the truth of the matter, so I’m heartened to see they are taking responsibility,” she said. “I think we’re making progress.”

American’s lawyers said they would get back to Pitkin County early next week about scheduling the fine hearing, Ely said.


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