Anyone who has flown in or out of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport knows that it is incredibly convenient, but also expensive. With two major air carriers servicing our local airport, competition is limited, and airlines reap the benefits of high ticket prices and full planes.
Fortunately, a deal struck by a group of community partners adds a third air carrier. The community and tourists alike will likely benefit from increased airline competition, and new non-stop flight offerings.
During the August 1st Marketing, Special Events, & Group Sales Board Meeting, Christian Kannp, vice president of marketing for the Aspen Skiing Company presented the rationale behind this deal during Board presentation and update.
According to Knapp, specifics of the deal will remain confidential as to not tip off competing resort markets, and not negatively impact future negotiations with other airlines.
"We have a lot of limitations in bringing new airlines here," said Knapp. "ASE has restrictions regarding type of aircrafts that can fly here and few airlines have planes that meet these requirements, and while we are a profitable market for airlines, we are a seasonal market."
But, in spite of these challenges, the benefits to airport customers (such as reasonably priced tickets, multiple nonstop destinations, and high
frequency service that's easy to book), and the benefits to Delta (a profitable market with low levels of competition) created a good environment for productive negotiations.
Behind the Deal
Key players including Pitkin County, Aspen Ski Company,
Snowmass Tourism, the Town of Snomwass Village, the City of Aspen, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and
Stay Aspen/Snowmass convened with the shared goal to ensure quality air service to the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport through an informal Air Development Council.
This collaboration, which could become a more formalized group in the future, would like to develop a long-term strategic plan, funding mechanism, and proactive approach to air service.
"Regionally, we have no permanent funding mechanism to support air transportation," said Knapp. "Other communities have more money in their pockets and are far better organized to ensure great air."
The Delta deal was presented as a great step forward in what Knapp hopes is a long-term collaboration. He proposed formalizing the ASE Air Development Council to research additional air service opportunities, determine sustainable sources of funding support, and evaluating the feasibility of introducing different aircraft types in the future.
Read more about the announcement in the Aspen Times