Aspen airport closure may help Eagle County business |

Aspen airport closure may help Eagle County business

Tamara MillerVail correspondent

The closure of Aspen’s airport could mean business in Eagle County.It’s hard to predict how shutting down Sardy Field for 60 days in the spring of 2006 will impact the Eagle County Regional Airport and Vail Valley Jet Center. But airport officials there expect to see at least some increase in incoming flights during those days. “We’re excited about it,” said Paul Gordon, manager of the Vail Valley Jet Center. Private and corporate jets fly into the jet center while commercial flights come into the Eagle County airport. “It’s a really light time for us,” Gordon said. “I don’t see a big windfall for the airport, but it certainly helps.”Sardy Field will close April 9, 2006, after the last day of the ski season, and re-open June 8 so the airport’s runway can undergo extensive repairs.Midspring to early summer tend to be slower times of the year for ski resort communities and their airports. The ski slopes are closed and hiking and biking trails are bogged down with mud and melting snow. It’s the best time for Pitkin County’s airport to close and, perhaps, an opportunity for a slightly busier shoulder season at Eagle County’s airports.Private jets may also fly into Rifle, but commercial flights that would have gone to Aspen will likely fly into Eagle County, said Ovid Seiphers, general manager for the airport. Rifle’s airport doesn’t accept commercial flights. Taxi and rental car companies could feel the positive impact, too. Tom Ball, executive vice president for Colorado Mountain Express, said he hopes to get a little more business then.But the impact depends on what commercial airlines do – if they decide to fly planes that would otherwise go into Pitkin County into Eagle County, Ball said.

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