AmericanAirlines readies to launch service to Aspen

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – AmericanAirlines will begin service to Aspen on Dec. 15, Aspen/Snowmass resort officials and the airline’s representatives announced Tuesday at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.

The lengthening of the airport runway by 1,000 feet – a project that is now under way and is to be finished in the fall – keys the airline’s ability to offer nonstop service from Dallas/Fort Worth, American’s hub, as well as Los Angeles, according to Gary Foss, vice president of planning and marketing for AmericanAirlines.

Without that extra length, the weight of the fuel needed to make the nonstop flights meant leaving seats empty in order to take off from Aspen. The profitability of the service didn’t pencil out, Foss said.

American will serve the resort in both winter and summer – seats for the winter season will be available to purchase starting Monday, according to Foss.

American joins both United and Frontier, which both serve the Aspen market year-round.

“The market can certainly support three airlines here very comfortably,” said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass and the resort’s liaison to the airline industry. Previously, America West, Northwest and United all served Aspen for five or six years, he noted.

The local resort will not offer American revenue guarantees, but did provide an incentive package to the airline that was comparable to what was offered to United and Frontier when they entered the Aspen market, according to Tomcich.

He declined to reveal the value of the package, but said it was a collaboration between Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County, along with the Aspen Skiing Co., Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Snowmass Tourism.

“Having AmericanAirlines come in here gives me great hope and optimism for the community going forward,” said Mike Kaplan, Skico president and CEO.

“It’s long been a priority of the Board of County Commissioners to have strong, healthy, competitive airline service,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards. “AmericanAirlines is going to add considerably to that goal.”

For more on Tuesday’s announcement and what it means for travel to Aspen/Snowmass, see Wednesday’s Aspen Times.