Sunday, April 08, 2007

Aspen Airport (ASE) closed until June for repairs

ASEAspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) -- AKA 'Sardy Field' -- will close on April 9, at 11:00 local time, and will remain closed for the next 60 days. During the closure, crews will remove and replace the airport’s deteriorating runway and perform interior and exterior airport terminal maintenance, according to information posted on the airport's Runway Rehabilitation Project website. The 7,000-foot runway at ASE has not been overhauled since 1983.

While ASE is closed, other airports in the area will be taking up the slack. An article in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel says:
Because Aspen's airport will be closed, United Express doubled its daily flights to six between Eagle County Airport in Gypsum and Denver International Airport. Eagle County Airport is 63 miles from Aspen, and ground transportation to Aspen is available.

Walker Field Airport in Grand Junction doesn't expect any noticeable increase in takeoffs and landings because of Aspen's closure, Walker Field Manger Rex Tippetts said. Most private pilots likely will use the Garfield County Regional Airport outside Rifle, he said.

Garfield County Airport Manager Brian Condie agrees, but said he doesn't know what to expect. April is the slowest month for the Garfield County facility, with about 200 landings, he said.

"We're prepared to handle as many as 2,000 a month," Condie said. "I don't think anybody knows how many we'll see. But we're ready."

If business exceeds the airport’s ability to handle the extra traffic, Condie said he arranged with DIA to locate a temporary control tower at the airport. Garfield County has no manned control tower or commercial flights. Private and corporate jet pilots use sight and instruments, along with radio contact at the airport's flight-based operator.

Hangar space is already at a premium, Condie said, and five new hangars are planned or under construction. Twenty private aircraft owners have contacted him about temporarily relocating to the Rifle airport while Aspen is closed, he said.
The runway will not be extended or widened during this phase of the project, and none of the planned improvements will allow larger planes to fly into Aspen. The Aspen runway project is expected to cost about $12 million.

If you are interested in this airport, you might like to have a look at this Information and Myths document, posted on the Runway Rehabilitation Project website.

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