High times for Aspen airport | AspenTimes.com

High times for Aspen airport

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Aspen’s airport last year had its busiest year in a decade, according to a report issued Thursday.

David Ulane, assistant aviation director at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, said in the report that the airport handled more enplanements in 2008 than in any year since 1998.

The increase was due “in large part to new air service operations,” mainly the addition of Frontier Airlines as a carrier flying into Aspen, Ulane noted.

Last year, the airport handled 223,840 enplanements ” each representing a departing passenger boarding a plane, according to Ulane.

That represents a 10 percent increase over 2006, he reported, explaining that, because the airport was closed for two months in the spring of 2007, that year is not considered a valid comparison.

Ulane said one indication of the airport’s increased traffic is the fact that the airport’s parking lots saw a 15 percent rise in use in 2008 compared to 2006.

“Since our parking lots are used almost exclusively by local residents, we believe Frontier’s new service has encouraged locals to use our airport more frequently, rather than drive to other airports,” Ulane noted.

“Including arriving passengers, the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport terminal processed a total of 438,644 travelers last year,” Ulane continued.

The “dominant” carrier, he said, remains United, which enplaned 168,061 passengers, or roughly 76 percent of the total. That represented a drop of about 1 percent compared to the airline’s 2006 performance, Ulane reported.

Frontier, which did not begin serving the Aspen airport until April 2008, seated 33,868 outgoing passengers, roughly 15 percent of the total.

The remaining portion of the outgoing passengers were captured by Delta Air Lines, which dropped to 8.7 percent due to a reduction in scheduled service, and US Airways, which ceased service to the airport last spring, with less than 1 percent, Ulane reported.

The report predicts that the airport will see a 6 percent increase in the number of airline flights in the coming year, as well as a 13 percent increase in the number of available seats, “due primarily to United’s exclusive use of 66-seat regional jet aircraft this winter,” as opposed to slightly smaller aircraft used in the past.

In addition, Delta has expanded its number of nonstop flights to Atlanta, and United has resumed its nonstop service to Chicago and Los Angeles, according to Ulane.

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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