Piktin County board OK with Aspen airport upgrades | AspenTimes.com

Piktin County board OK with Aspen airport upgrades

The baggage handling area at the Aspen airport will be revamped under a $2.3 million plan preliminarily approved by Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday preliminarily approved spending more than $2.7 million to improve security and baggage handling at the Aspen airport.

The money will come from the Airport Fund, which currently has an approximately $15 million balance and is funded by airline, parking and other airport-related fees, said Jon Peacock, Pitkin County manager. The fund contains no taxpayer money, he said.

In addition, the airlines that service the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport will pay back the $2.3 million cost of the new baggage handling system over a five year period, he said.

The new, automated baggage-handling system is necessary partly because the poor ergonomics of the current system are causing on-the-job injuries, according to a memo to commissioners from county finance department staff. Also, with increased commercial service and the additional baggage that will generate, the current system will not be able to keep up and more bags will be left behind and not make flights, the memo states.

“The result of this project will be safer working conditions for (Transportation Security Administration employees) and airline personnel, increased through-put of screened baggage and less bags missing their intended flights,” according to the memo.

The cost to the American Airlines portion of the baggage handling system will be $330,330, while United Airlines’ portion of the project will be about $1,97 million, according to the memo. The work is expected to be done this year, the memo states.

Airport officials also plan to spend $446,000 to install hardware and software enhancements to the facility’s security systems, including cameras and access control areas.

Commissioners unanimously supported spending the money at their regular work session Tuesday.