Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Looks like the Dallas Freeway is going to get a little more crowded this ski season.

And I’m not talking the LBJ, the Carpenter or the Tom Landry Highway here. No, I’m talking about the treeless, gentle, free-flowing groomer on the Big Burn that will likely see a few more skiers thanks to the announcement this week that American Eagle will begin daily service in December from both Dallas and Los Angeles.

All it took was a 1,000-foot-long addition to the runway at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, a planeload of cash and access to America’s greatest ski resort for AmericanAirlines to decide that this is a place worth flying to. I’m assuming that the cash had a lot to do with it. It’s funny, but everyone wants to come here and the airlines are the only ones that actually get paid to do so. How much they get paid is a triple-double secret and, if they told us we’d probably all freak out and chase them out of town. The cash payment is reportedly in lieu of what is called in the industry an MRG, or a minimum revenue guarantee. Whatever.

Regardless, it’s a done deal according to Gary Foss, vice president of planning and marketing for AmericanAirlines regional network, who not only announced that flights would begin on Dec. 15, but also brought cake. Cake is always good.

It’s funny, but I drive to Eagle occasionally to fly American Eagle and always thought there was aviation symmetry at work there. But now we can just get in line at Sardy Field to catch one of those American Eagle CRJ-700s with nine, count ’em, nine, first-class seats. You just know that those will be filled each and every trip.

In all seriousness, the arrival of the Eagle will only help to make life easier for folks from South America and Texas to get here and they have been a sweet spot for the business community for years. As a lifetime Gold guy on American, I’m glad to have an alternative to flying United, which keeps changing the rules and raising the bar on their frequent flyer program. And if the Cowboys make the post-season, direct flights to the NFL playoffs will also be a good thing.

And let’s not forget that LA is a gateway city to the rest of the world as well – most importantly, Hawaii. This will give us mountain folk another option when the snows of February get to be a bit much and we need a dose of the Pacific to restore the balance. It also, because of American’s ties to Qantas, opens the door to Australia and New Zealand. And that is even better than cake. Here’s hoping that the LA direct will compete with United’s LA direct and force some fine fares into the marketplace.

Overall, I think that we all have to give Bill Tomcich, president of central reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, a pat on the back for this one. Three airlines are now on track to serve us this ski season and that is a good thing.

Can I have some cake now?