Airport Advisory Board’s job is to listen |

Airport Advisory Board’s job is to listen

Jacquelyn Francis and Meg Haynes
Aspen Airport Advisory Board
The Aspen Times

As long-time residents of Pitkin County, we — Jacquelyn Francis (chair) and Meg Haynes (vice chair) of the Aspen Airport Advisory Board — have a strong interest in ensuring the airport is quieter, cleaner, and safer into the future.

It’s why we volunteered to be part of an 18-month visioning process for the airport and now serve on the board. We are two of 12 community members appointed by the Pitkin County commissioners. 

All Airport Advisory Board members are longtime locals who have a diversity of perspectives and vast knowledge of our community. We all care deeply about this place. Since the board’s first meeting in January 2022, our purpose has come into greater focus: We are the liaison between the community, the Board of County Commissioners, and our unique airport. It’s our responsibility to implement the Pitkin County commissioners’ resolution, which states the purpose of the advisory board is to assist and advise the commissioners on matters related to operation and community goals for the airport.

The resolution also says advisory board membership includes users, service providers, neighbors, and community members with a shared interest of achieving high quality of life and exceptional service delivery regarding the airport. Advisory board members serve as community communicators, listening to what the community is looking for in its airport, and expressing it in a way that makes sense for the community and the airport going forward.

As most of the area’s residents already know, the airport needs critical safety updates and improvements to the traveler experience. These updates are part of a long-range community vision, starting with the replacement of the terminal and then phasing additional upgrades.

The entire process will likely take decades. This is not an expansion of the airport. All of the potential changes start with safety, less pollution, less noise, and managed growth of passenger traffic.

These priorities are a reflection of values expressed by community members in the ASE Vision Common Ground Recommendations. The role of the Airport Advisory Board is to ensure our shared values are at the forefront of every decision about our airport’s future. That’s why we were appointed and we take this role seriously.

The Airport Advisory Board has already begun putting community priorities front and center. In December, we approved a climate emission baseline and inventory policy that was developed with Rick Heede, a local resident, director of the Climate Accountability Institute, and advisory board member. The baseline is a crucial tool in establishing emission reduction goals and progress related to aviation and ground operations.

When it comes to safety, Barry Vaughan, a local pilot and advisory board member, created the Flight Operations Safety Task Force, which has already met to work on maximizing safety in the air and on the ground.

Much more work is ahead. This year, we will start discussions with the community about a new terminal, continue to work on greenhouse-gas and criteria pollutant reductions, advise on the selection process for a fixed based operator, and work with airport staff on an airport layout plan . The plan is a map of baseline (safety), near-term (terminal), and long-term (airfield) updates, which ultimately needs FAA approval for the airport to receive federal funding that could cover up to 90% of project costs.

Balance is a key part of all of this work — between our shared community values and what’s required by the FAA. Our job is to listen closely and help make smart decisions. The public can learn more by attending one of our monthly meetings, sending questions to, and visiting the airport’s website. We hope to hear from you as we make the community vision for a safer, quieter, and cleaner airport a reality.

Jacquelyn Francis, chair of the Airport Advisory Board, Aspen/Pitkin County resident since 1971;
Meg Haynes, vice chair of the Airport Advisory Board, former Aspen Valley Hospital Board president, and Roaring Fork Valley resident since 1989.