Aspen airport closure could help county |

Aspen airport closure could help county

Tamara Miller
Preston Utley/Vail DailySteam from the wallboard plant rises above Gypsum Thursday morning, the airport has had to cancel and delay flights due to the morning steam.

GYPSUM – One airport’s closure could mean business in Eagle County.It’s hard to predict how the Pitkin County airport closure for 60 days in the spring of 2006 will impact the Eagle County Regional Airport and Vail Valley Jet Center. But airport officials expect to see at least some increase in incoming flights during those days. “We’re excited about it,” said Paul Gordon, manager of the Vail Valley Jet Center. Private and corporate jets fly into the jet center while commercial flights come into the Eagle County airport.

“It’s a really light time for us,” Gordon added. “I don’t see a big windfall for the airport, but it certainly helps.”Aspen’s regional airport will close April 9, 2006, after the last day of the ski season, and re-open June 8. The airport’s runway will be repaired during that time.Mid-spring to early summer tend to be slower times of the year for ski resort communities and their airports. The ski slopes are closed and hiking and biking trails are packed with mud and melting snow. It’s the best time for Pitkin County’s airport to close and, perhaps, an opportunity for a slightly busier shoulder season at Eagle County’s airports.

Private jets may also fly into Rifle, but commercial flights that would have gone to Aspen will likely fly into Eagle County, said Ovid Seifers, general manager for the airport. Rifle’s airport doesn’t accept commercial flights. Taxi and rental car companies could feel the positive impact, too. Tom Ball, executive vice president for Colorado Mountain Express, said he hopes to get a little more business then.But the impact depends on what commercial airlines do – if they decide to fly planes that would otherwise go into Pitkin County into Eagle County, Ball said.

Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or, Colorado

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