Eagle County’s airport master plan envisions big changes and has already drawn opposition

Planners looking at ways to ease future use of the airport

Chris Baddick, co-owner of Cooley Mesa Detailing at the Eagle County Regional Airport, is worried about the possibility that rental car operations may be moved off airport property. That possibility is raised in early research of a 20-year master plan for the airport.
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Planners are going through a host of ideas about the future of the Eagle County Regional Airport. Some are already raising eyebrows.

Planners, including Jviation and the Guesler architecture firm, are working on what the airport and its users may need over the next 20 years or so.

Much of that work involves ways to improve capacity and efficiency of operations. There are ideas to expand and modify terminal operations, including ticketing, security, baggage and vendors. There are also ideas that could expand the inventory of hangar space for private aircraft.

There are also ideas to add another taxiway to the north side of the airport.

Planners acknowledged the proposed 1,000-foot westward expansion of the main runway could be controversial. But Jim Miklas of Jvation Tuesday told the Eagle County Board of Commissioners that the extension idea is more to protect existing airspace over the facility.

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“Realistically, the end of the runway will be the end of the runway,” Miklas said.

One idea on the “landside” — where passengers are picked up and dropped off — has already raised some eyebrows.

Parking can be tight at the airport during peak periods, and there’s little room for expansion without building parking structures — an expensive proposition.

To alleviate some of that congestion, one idea is creating a large rental car lot just east and south of the airport. Under that scenario, passengers would be shuttled from the terminal to the new rental facility.

But Chris Baddick sees significant problems with moving car rental operations off-site.

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Baddick owns Cooley Mesa Detailing, which washes and services rental cars. He also owns the Thrifty and Dollar rental franchises. Baddick called just after Tuesday’s meeting with the commissioners to say he “strongly opposes” the idea to move the car rental facility.

“I think there’ll be significant pushback,” Baddick said, adding that Aspen, Jackson, Wyoming, and other resort airports have guests take and return their cars straight from the passenger terminal.

“We’d be the only (resort airport) putting people on a bus,” Baddick said. “We don’t have much competitive advantage over Denver,” and shuttling people to their rental cars cuts into that advantage, he added.

The master plan process is continuing for a while. In an email, Eagle County Aviation Director David Reid wrote that those researching and drafting the plan will over the next several months “be honing in on what the preferred (plan) options will look like and developing financial plans, timelines and sources of funding associated with each phase.”

Reid wrote that the next round of stakeholder meetings will be held in early October.

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