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Pitkin County Press Releases

Posted on: June 29, 2023

County Commissioners consider forecast for future air travel

First of a two-read resolution passes 4-1, second reading set for July 12 

PITKIN COUNTY, COLO. (June 29, 2023) – The results of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) air travel demand forecast were presented to the Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in a work session on Tuesday, June 27, followed by a regular meeting Wednesday, June 28, where an initial vote was taken. This was the first reading of the resolution, which passed 4-1 to advance the forecast to a second reading during the BOCC regular meeting on July 12. 

The forecast is part of the Airport Layout Plan (ALP), which is required to receive substantial funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Prior to the BOCC’s consideration, the ASE Airport Advisory Board (AAB) spent roughly two months reviewing the forecast during its monthly April and May meetings. Following deliberation, the AAB voted to advance the forecast to the BOCC to decide whether to submit it to the FAA for final review and approval.

The air travel demand forecast includes the number of current and estimated future commercial passengers, commercial operations and total operations, including private General Aviation flights, as well as the types of potential planes that could serve ASE in the future. During BOCC deliberations and the associated public hearing, new information about the deteriorating condition of the airport’s runway was also discussed at length. 

Passenger Forecast

Historical trends provide guidance for forecasting potential future enplanement growth. At ASE, passenger growth from 2000 to 2022 increased by 1.4%. 

The Common Ground Recommendations developed by the community during the ASE Vision process state, “we recognize that our 0.8% enplanement growth goal is both aspirational and approximate. Federal law limits our ability to set exact enplanement limits, but we urge using our limited tools as best we can.”

The passenger forecast presented to the BOCC contains a 1.3% growth forecast. The difference between the 0.8% growth rate in the Common Ground Recommendations and the 1.3% forecasted rate, which is expected to meet FAA requirements for accuracy, equates to an average difference of less than six enplanements per day. 

Anticipated Future Aircraft (Fleet Mix) 

Determining the likely types of aircraft that will operate at ASE in the future is a critical component of the forecast. For planning purposes, the FAA does not allow restrictions that “unjustly discriminate” or prohibit access to the airport facility. As such, the forecasted future fleet for ASE includes the CRJ-700, Embraer-175LR, Airbus A220-100, and Airbus A220-300.

The forecast identifies the “Critical Design Aircraft” for ASE, which the FAA defines as “the most demanding aircraft type or grouping of aircraft with similar physical and operational characteristics that use an airport regularly. Regular use is 500 annual operations or more.”

For commercial service, the only aircraft currently serving ASE is the CRJ-700, which is not expected to continue serving our airport past 2032 as the fleet ages. The updated forecast anticipates the future critical aircraft will be the Airbus A220-300. Compared to the CRJ, the Airbus is significantly cleaner, quieter and would require fewer future operations to move the same number of passengers. 

Aircraft Operations Forecast

According to the updated aircraft fleet mix, the operations forecast shows the potential for fewer daily commercial flights in the future at ASE. As the next generation of cleaner, quieter, safer, and larger commercial aircraft come online, the average daily difference anticipated in the commercial forecast is less than one operation per day for both air carriers and air taxis. 

For private planes, the average daily increase is also forecasted to be less than one additional General Aviation operation per day. Furthermore, total General Aviation operations at ASE are forecasted to remain relatively flat over the next 20 years, with an anticipated increase of just 0.75% annually, through 2042. 

The Board of County Commissioners’ second reading of the resolution with a public hearing is set to occur on Wednesday, July 12.  

Media contact: Marci Suazo,, (970) 309-2343

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