Aspen airport landing fees going up | AspenTimes.com

Aspen airport landing fees going up

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

Aspen Times fileA United Express taxis at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. Landing fees at the airport will go up next year.

ASPEN – Landing fees at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport will go up next year, in part to cover increased costs associated with its newly lengthened runway.

The fees, charged per 1,000 pounds of aircraft weight, will go up nearly 10 percent for commercial airlines and 13.3 percent for private aircraft from elsewhere. Locally based private aircraft aren’t charged a landing fee.

The landing fee for a CRJ-700, the commercial jet flown by SkyWest for United Express and to be used by American Eagle for its Aspen service, will increase from about $277 currently to $304 in 2012.

The fees are intended to cover expenses associated with the runway and taxiway – snowplowing, painting stripes, asphalt maintenance and whatnot. With the recently completed extension of the runway by 1,000 feet, costs will go up, said County Manager Jon Peacock. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration has dictated a more aggressive program of striping and maintenance.

To fully offset the anticipated increase in costs, landing fees would have to jump by 34 percent next year, said Tom Oken, county treasurer.

“That’s just too much,” he said.

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Nonetheless, Commissioner Rob Ittner on Wednesday questioned the impact of the increased costs on the consumer.

“My biggest concern is these fees are going to be passed on to the fees charged to travelers coming in and out of Aspen,” he said.

Airport fees are a small part of overall airline operating costs, responded Tom Oken, county treasurer. And, he noted, commercial operators benefit from the runway extension, which allows them to fill seats that they formerly had to leave empty in order to take off with a full fuel load under certain conditions.

“The runway extension does have a favorable revenue impact to the airlines,” Oken said.

Airlines will charge what the market will bear even if the landing fees remain unchanged, added Commissioner Rachel Richards.

Commissioners approved the increased landing fees on first reading Wednesday; a public hearing and necessary second vote is scheduled Dec. 21.

In addition to the hike in landing fees, commissioners preliminarily agreed to increase rent prices in the terminal by 2.5 percent next year and to increase the car rental customer facility charge by about 22 percent. The latter fee was first initiated in mid-1998 at a rate of $3 per customer transaction per day. In May 2006, it was increased to $4.50; it’s slated to increase to $5.50 per customer transaction in 2012. Revenues go to capital improvements that benefit the car-rental companies operating at the airport, Oken said.

Overall, next year’s airport budget reflects slightly more than $3.1 million in revenues from airline fees, which amounts to about 40 percent of the airport’s overall revenues, according to Oken. The airlines will pay about $1.4 million in terminal rent costs and $1.7 million in landing fees.

Various fees charged to general aviation, or private aircraft, will generate about $1.8 million in revenues, Oken said.

janet@aspentimes.com