Runway work could spur new destinations for Eagle County
Eagle County, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Improvements that will be made this summer to the Eagle County airport runway will make it possible for airlines to offer nonstop service to further destinations.
Flying to New York in the summer is one possibility, officials said.
Whether or not that will happen is still up for debate. But now is the perfect time to start talking about it ” the Eagle County airport needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up, said Kent Myers, a local airline consultant who helps manage summer service in Eagle.
“It’s time to make a shift,” Myers said. “We’re going to start thinking a little more visionary.”
The airport will be closed for more than four months this summer while the runway is upgraded. Part of the process includes lengthening the runway by 1,000 feet, which will allow for some aircraft to carry more fuel and still be able to take off. Heavier airplanes need more runway space to get off the ground, said Chris Anderson, the airport’s terminal director.
Airplanes could fly from Eagle to New York in the summer now, but weight restrictions ” often in the form of fewer passengers ” have to be placed on the flight in order to do so and make the option less cost effective.
“The possibility of flying to New York in the summer is much closer than it has been before,” Anderson said. “We still need to do further analysis to see if they can fly that distance with a profitable load. (The airlines) want to take off with as many people as they can but need to make sure they have enough fuel to get to their destination.”
Anderson said flying to New York is a good goal for two reasons.
“It’s the furthest we would fly in the lower 48 and it’s also a big market for the valley,” he said.
Myers and Anderson, along with other officials, sat down Monday morning with the Eagle County commissioners to talk about what might be the next direction the airport heads in.
“We had a need and ramped up quickly and now we’re at a ceiling,” Commissioner Runyon said. “So the big question is, is this is fine, this is what we do, or do we see if we can get to that next plateau?”
International flights also become more of an option once the runway is upgraded and lengthened, officials said.
“There are some international destinations that we could reach with the extended runway that we can’t reach now,” Anderson said. “Whether the demand exists or not is something that we’re not sure of.”
The airport would also need a station where passengers could clear customs in order to run most international flights ” another big obstacle, officials said.
Whether it’s New York or London, the key to any service expansion at the airport is setting the priorities, Myers said.
“Where do we want to fly?” he said. “What’s the vision?”
Myers hopes to have another meeting with local officials by August to talk about the airport and discuss options for new service.
Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or email@example.com.