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Friendlier skies

Paul E. Anna

There is going to be a change in the air. Literally.As The Aspen Times reported on the front page of its Jan. 27 edition, SkyWest Airlines, which now manages the Aspen market for United Airlines, is introducing CRJ-700s as their jet of choice to service Aspen. Goodbye to the venerable BAE-146s that have served our community so well, and goodbye to the outdated Dash-8s that were introduced more recently by SkyWest.This, my friends, is, for the most part, very good news indeed. First and foremost it answers the question of “what will SkyWest do?” that has hung like an inversion layer over Sardy Field for the better part of a year now. The answer is that it will not only maintain jet service in and out of Aspen, but, more important, it will do so with new planes that are comfortable, efficient and have a solid track record within the industry.Who among us has not bounced about in an ancient BAE-146 over the Front Range wondering if there were any structural deficiencies in the wings of the old bird? Who hasn’t flown into Aspen on a snowy evening only to have the pilot rev up the engines of a Dash-8 for a go-around, leaving the passengers to ponder if the twin engines had enough juice to clear Shadow Mountain?The new CRJs have some deficiencies to be sure. There is precious little room in the glove compartment-sized overheads, which will force a change of habit for those used to cramming their Louis Vuittons into the BAE’s more spacious bins. And a rumor exists that the twin-engine planes could have trouble with heavy loads on those summer days when the warm air limits the lift. It should be a hoot to see the six first-class passengers scramble to collect their belongings and move to the rear of the aircraft for takeoff.Now, if the folks at United/SkyWest could just do something about the fares. A recent call to United showed that a next-day round trip in and out of Denver would cost $790.60. Back in the day, way back in the day, the fares were a little different.On Dec. 1, 1970, one could purchase a one-way ticket to Denver on Rocky Mountain Airways for $27. Too much? You could fly standby for just $17. And if you were a local or a frequent visitor to Aspen then you could by a 10-flight “Commuter Booklet” for $199.80.Of course those were the days before timeshares and NetJets. And as the song goes: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”Way to try SkyWest.


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