Commissioner: Aspen airport too pricey | AspenTimes.com

Commissioner: Aspen airport too pricey

Scott CondonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Pitkin County Commissioner Jack Hatfield isn’t shy about telling people he doesn’t use the airport he helps supervise.Hatfield told officials from United Express and SkyWest on Tuesday that he doesn’t typically fly in or out of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport because of the price and availability of seats. He made the comment during a county commissioners meeting to discuss what the airlines will do next winter to avoid problems they experienced last winter.

Hatfield said he thinks he speaks for a lot of locals who seek alternatives when they fly.After the meeting, Hatfield elaborated, saying he hasn’t used the local airport for about 10 years. He said he and his wife usually drive to Denver International Airport when they take trips, he said.Hatfield told the airline officials he is concerned about affordability in the Aspen market, for locals and some of the tourists.

SkyWest Chief Operations Officer Chip Childs said the cost of doing business is high in Aspen. The company is examining its wage and benefit package, for example, after suffering through a worker shortage last ski season.The higher costs of doing business in Aspen helps drive airfares. It is an issue SkyWest is aware of and tries to control.

“We sit here and scratch our head about how much money we can throw at some of those issues,” Childs said.Pitkin County Commissioner Dorothea Farris urged the airline officials to sell booklets of discount tickets to locals, as the airlines serving Aspen once did. Rocky Mountain Airways and Aspen Airways offered the booklets of discounted tickets for travel between Aspen and Denver. That practice stopped in the 1980s. Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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