It’s time for a second opinion | AspenTimes.com

It’s time for a second opinion

Dear Editor:

I have asked the county commissioners to give a clear, valid reason for the 1,000-foot runway extension. They have given us vague, platitudinous comments about safety and improved service. I suggest that the commissioners and any interested citizen to Google aspen/pitkin county airport executive summary – wherein lies the answer.

The extension will theoretically (and theoretically only) improve Sky West’s load factor from 68 to 71 percent: a little less than two passengers per flight.

But wait! Read page four closely; the flaw in this study is obvious – it confuses supply for demand.

The CRJ 7 can carry 66 passengers.

On an average flight 45 seats are filled – a 68 percent load factor.

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Over 80 degrees, and, or tail wind, there are on average 55 seats available to sell but no passengers to buy seats 45 through 55.

Adding the 1,000 feet would, on these special flights, make up to 11 more seats available (seats 55 to 66). The study then identifies these unsold seats as demand.

Of course these seats are supply (excess supply) not demand.

Demand can only be increased two ways:

One: Advertising or similar methods – we are presently seeing the airport buying television spots in an attempt to sell their excess supply.

Two: lower fares.

Even if, by advertising or lowering fares, Sky West could increase their load factors, travelers would detest the service they would receive. Approaching a load factor of 85 percent and over 90 percent, no airline can provide minimally acceptable service.

The question is probably moot. It is hard to believe that the FAA would approve this unneeded addition to our runway, when there are dozens of cities with four or five thousand foot runways wanting extensions, which would make a real difference.

We are proposing to spend twenty million dollars for a runway, long enough to serve much larger aircraft, (B-757s) but claim that larger aircraft will never use it. I cannot fathom: Is this profligate foolishness or hidden agenda?

Finally, when ending discussion on this subject, commissioners and public seem to agree: Oh well, needed or not, the feds are paying for most of it.

It is disappointing when citizens are this cynical but downright chilling when officials, elected as our fiscal and ethical guardians, forget their duty.

To the Pitkin County commissioners: Consult a specialist. Get a second opinion.

Bruce Hansen

Aspen

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