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Airport Staff Reductions Reflect Long Decline of Aspen’s Evening Air Traffic

By July 15, 2013 No Comments

indexWhen the Federal Aviation Administration decided to cut the hours of air traffic controllers at Aspen’s Sardy Field starting Thursday, it came in response to a long-term decline in evening traffic at the airfield. Following an FAA review of average Aspen air traffic in recent months, the control tower will be staffed from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Previously, at least one air traffic controller had worked the tower until 10 p.m.  Under FAA rules, the agency only puts an employee in an airport control tower if four or more planes per hour are arriving at or departing from the airport.
“In Aspen, for the most part, there are usually fewer than two operations an hour after 7 p.m., and in a lot of cases, there are zero per hour,” said Lynn Lunsford, the FAA public relations officer for the southwest region. “There are certain days where it might be higher, but those are the trends. In Aspen’s case we’ve had several years where we’ve been right on the edge of needing to reduce hours,” he said.
The latest studies show traffic is down compared to 2008, when the average number of planes coming and going from Aspen after 8 p.m. was around three per hour. That year, the FAA cut the number of controllers in the tower from two down to one after 8 p.m., meaning the latest cuts are merely an extension of a long-term trend toward lower staffing levels.

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