Eagle County’s airport is getting busier

American Airlines is adding a new flight from Austin, Texas for the coming winter flight season.
Nate Peterson/Vail Daily archive

Things are getting busy at the Eagle County Regional Airport.

Passenger numbers are up from both 2021 and 2019 — the year before 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic. And, while total flight operations — all flights into and out of the airport — are down slightly from 2021, operations are up by more than 26% from 2019.

Four facts
  • Hertz plans to install four more fast chargers for electric vehicles. That’s in addition to existing chargers.
  • Enplanements for 2022 now surpass passenger numbers in 2021.
  • Total flight operations year to date exceed 2019 numbers by more than 26%.
  • There will be air service to 12 cities — including Denver — for the winter flight season. There’s a new route to Austin this winter.


The numbers were part of a Nov. 15 presentation to the Eagle County Commissioners from Eagle County Aviation Director David Reid and Josh Miller, the assistant director.

Passenger numbers, recorded by the Transportation Security Agency, are up about 5% from 2021 and are almost 10% ahead of year-to-date figures from 2019.

Those passengers are also eating more food and renting more cars. Restaurant and other concession revenue is up 35% from 2019, and car rental revenue is up more than 44% from that year.

Support Local Journalism

Customers who want electric vehicles will have more options this winter. After the first airport rental chargers in Colorado were installed earlier this year, Reid said more vehicles, and more chargers, will be available this winter. Other firms intend to install even more charging stations in 2023.

Miller said airport officials have been in talks with Holy Cross Energy about where additional chargers could be installed.

In addition to passenger numbers, Reid noted a number of other projects and progress made at the facility.

The airport now has access to as many as six rooms for essential employees at the old Bright Future Foundation house near the west end of the airport runway. The rooms are for either seasonal employees or provide temporary housing for full-time employees.

Future projects include repaving the airport’s main taxiway. That hasn’t been done since the 1990s.

A new taxiway on the north side of the runway is planned for design and construction in 2024 and 2025.

New private aviation hangars are under construction to the west of the commercial terminal. Those hangars will be operated by the Vail Valley Jet Center.

Most of the operations and projects at the airport are paid for through either revenue generated at the facility or through federal funding. But a planned new U.S. Customs facility will have to be paid for and staffed at county expense. But, Reid said, the facility will be self-sustaining once it’s operational. Miller said that could happen as soon as the 2024-25 winter season.

There’s a lot about the aviation business that’s out of the control of those on the ground in Eagle County. But Reid had an answer when Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry asked if anything could be done locally about the nationwide pilot shortage.

Reid said airport officials have been hosting school tours as a way to get young people excited about aviation.

Support Local Journalism