Guest commentary: Vision for future of Aspen airport begins with public process |

Guest commentary: Vision for future of Aspen airport begins with public process

Pitkin County is embarking on a community engagement process that will help define the vision for the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport for the next 30 years. At the center of this process is you, the community, the people who live, work and visit Pitkin County. I have already met with many of you, or maybe you have attended a presentation and heard me speak about the challenges and what is at stake for the future of the airport.

Thank you to the over 100 applicants who have applied to serve on the Airport Advisory Vision Committee and Working Groups. We are thrilled with the number of applicants and interest in volunteering for these committees. The Board of County Commissioners will appoint participants by early next year.

Throughout 2019, we will be asking for your participation in several outreach activities. I ask you to join the dialogue, provide comments and actively engage to help make sure the airport continues to reflect the community’s identity, values and sustainability goals; meet the community’s air-service needs; integrate with alternative modes of transportation; adapt to changes in the aviation industry; and provide safe, secure, efficient, accessible, reliable and environmentally responsible airport services and facilities.

The air-service industry is constantly changing and evolving. Yes, air-service demand is growing but, that is only one piece of the discussion. Changing governmental requirements for operations, safety and security; aircraft technology and efficiency improvements; changing demographics, customer service and amenity expectations; airport systems and technology improvements; and increasing sustainability expectations also are driving modernization and renewal at airports around the world. Remember, the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport is only one stop away from any destination in the world.

The existing facilities at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport are out of date and out of step with the global evolution of the air-service industry. The facilities do not meet many federal operations and safety requirements; local sustainability, connectivity and mobility goals; customer service expectations; air-service operational requirements; and modern systems technology requirements. The aging facilities also are inefficient, difficult to maintain, costly and do not provide a customer experience that reflects the character or sense of place of the community.

The ASE Vision Process is needed to help establish how the airport should be renewed and modernized to accommodate the community’s air-service needs and keep up with changes in the air-service industry and hold on to the character and values of the community. We need your perspective and input on these issues to inform the decisions our Board of County Commissioners will make about the airport.

And this is where the process begins with our community in the forefront. We have established four airport advisory groups to advise our board and represent the various perspectives of our community in addition to a robust public involvement process. Our goal is to convene community collaboration across a diverse and inclusive cross-section of interests to provide feedback, share project information and ultimately inform Pitkin County’s decision-making process. The project’s four advisory groups have distinct charges and focus areas to facilitate a two-way flow of communication between the community and the County. Meetings will be engaging, high-energy, short and succinct. Through this process we are committed to ensuring that our airport’s future is reflective of the character of our community and our values.

John Kinney is the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport director since 2014. John is an aviation management veteran with over 32 years’ experience in the industry. John can be reached at or 970-920-5384.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User