Greed drives Aspen airport expansion
1. During the public approval process for lengthening the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport runway by an additional 1,000 feet in 2011, the public was repeatedly “promised” that the runway lengthening would never lead to larger aircraft. Why? Because the county commissioners would never allow the current runway weight limit of 100,000 pounds to be increased. They promised no weight increase as a condition of that approval. Remember? This is not that long ago and many of these same commissioners are still on the board, now insisting that the weight limit be increased to 150,000 pounds.
2. The new generation of regional jets does not require a change to the weight-bearing capacity of the runway. The largest of the new Mitsubishi regional jets has a maximum takeoff weight of 95,000 pounds.
3. The new generation of regional jets requires only a modest widening of the runway, if any at all. The new jets have a 95-foot, 10-inch wingspan. That is correct: 10 inches too wide and easily accommodated by a combination of FAA waivers and simple modifications to the existing runway. (How about a 1-foot widening of the runway to the west at a cost of a couple of million dollars?)
4. Guess which aircraft does require the new proposed $50 million runway expansion? Boeing 737s, Gulfstream 650s and global business jets.
Shouldn’t the residents of our community have the right to know the truth about why some business interests, the Aspen Skiing Co. and a handful of billionaires with their Gulfstream 650s have manipulated the FAA and our local political system into forcing this expansion? Please, tell us the truth and let us decide. Maybe a majority in the community want Boeing 737s to operate here. I know a lot of real estate interests desperately want the larger business jets, for obvious reasons. But stop with the “we are going to lose commercial airline service” blackmail nonsense that is currently being peddled. It is not true. This smells of nothing more than money and greed at the expense of our small-town character.
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