The Aspen-Pitkin County Airport is backing away from its plans to add a second FBO (fixed base operator) to the field. Pitkin County announced yesterday it is proceeding with part of the airport’s planned upgrades, and one “environmental assessment” (EA) process laying out plans for a wider reconfigured runway to accommodate jets with wider wingspans, and a new terminal building. The county will forego a second EA and the plans to add a second FBO and taxiway for private planes on the airport’s west side.
Currently Aspen airport has one FBO, operated by the Atlantic Aviation chain. During peak summer and winter holiday seasons Aspen is one of the busier single-runway, single-FBO airports in the country. In addition Aspen valley and its surrounding topography requires most jets to land and take off using the same approach/departure corridor to the east of the airport, requiring more planning and time needed to coordinate inbound and outbound aircraft.
Pitkin County was previously planning to put two EAs forward at once containing all elements of the master plan. But after meeting with with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials over the last few months, it has decided to simplify the EA process to focus on upgrades to the airport’s east side, making it less confusing and more cost-effective, according to a Pitkin County press release.
“Safety has always been the top priority at this airport. We will be reconfiguring the runway to meet FAA design standards to accommodate aircraft with wider wingspans that will replace the commercial fleet serving Aspen in the coming years,” noted airport director John Kinney in the statement. “We also need a new terminal to address existing safety and functional issues and to better serve the traveling public.”
FAA funding that would contribute to both projects was delayed. Peacock said that FAA funding for the project wouldn’t be available on the timeline the airport had initially anticipated, necessitating a new plan for moving forward. The FAA funding availability had decreased because of demand from other airports around the nation, the statement noted.
The second FBO and west side taxiway still could be relaunched at a future date under a different EA process, but it’s dependent on funding, the statement added.