A New Potential

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 April 2001 EAGLE, CO — The...


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

April 2001

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."

Fast Facts: Vail Valley Jet Center

  • Annual Revenues: $12 million
  • Annual Fuel:
    • Retail Jet-A: 2.8 million gals.
    • Avgas: 60,000 gals.
    • Defense Fuel Contracts: 120,000 gals.
  • No. of Employees: 52
  • Leasehold: 15 acres
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