A New Potential
Redefining airport, FBO roles has Eagle County poised for growth
By Bryan Burns, president, Vail Valley Jet Center (left), and Jim Elwood, Eagle County Regional Airport manager
EAGLE, CO — The FBO operated the airline terminal. The county went into competition with a second terminal and a ten-year contract with American Airlines. A lawsuit ensued; meanwhile, the FBO filed for bankruptcy. That was the mid-90s. Today, new FBO owners, a new president, and an airport manager hired in 1996 are working in unison to help the Eagle County Regional Airport reach its full potential.
Fixed base operators don’t frequently
operate the airline terminal as well, at least not one which serves four
airlines flying 757s and BAE-146s. But it did at Eagle County Regional
Airport near Vail in an unusual arrangement under which the county sponsor
focused its resources on airfield infrastructure and the FBO constructed
and operated the terminal.
In 1989, it’s reported that some 277 airline passengers came through the Eagle County airport. In February, the airport celebrated handling its 2 millionth passenger. Much has changed besides passenger growth in the interim, with a new investment team behind the FBO, the airport taking over all airline operations, and a management team of a pair of 42-year-olds who today are frequently seen together at aviation conventions promoting their airport and its proximity to some of the world’s top ski resorts.
Jim Elwood came on board as airport manager in 1996, moving from the airport in Pueblo, CO. Burns arrived one year ago, coming from Washington Reagan National Airport, where he was general manager of the Signature Flight Support FBO.
Explains Elwood, "Our goals are so similar; it really has turned out to be a strong relationship. We want to make this the premier mountain airport in the country. If we’re both working toward that same objective, we’ll get a lot more accomplished."
Says Burns, "My goal when I came here was to rebuild the foundation that had cracked. This is all part of rebuilding a very deteriorated relationship, creating a partnership."
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