A sign showing the highway exit to the Rifle Garfield County Airport.

Garfield County assessing future airport needs

October 8, 2021

Garfield County is assessing potential impacts, upgrades and trends that could affect the Rifle Garfield County Airport in the upcoming years, including increased need for hangar space if the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport were to close.

Rifle Garfield County Airport Director Brian Condie told the Board of County Commissioners in a recent work session that he believes there are more than 60 aircraft stationed in Glenwood Springs, and that the Rifle airport could only accommodate roughly half that number if the aircraft owners desired to move to the Rifle facility, potentially creating a space shortfall.

“Whether the Glenwood airport remains in operation or not, we need to be ready for customers who may want to transition to the Rifle airport,” he said. “We could hold maybe half of Glenwood’s aircraft, but there would be no space for the remaining 30 or so.”

The county’s Light General Aviation Layout Plan estimates the cost to build just the taxiway lanes to reach any potential new small aircraft hangers at $1.8 million. Condie added that if the Glenwood airport were to close, local aircraft owners would likely request funding from the county toward new aircraft hangers and tie-down space, and that the Rifle airport can accommodate as many as 50 small aircraft hangers on site if the infrastructure is constructed.

However, “There’s currently space for only four small aircraft box hangers right now, and we’ve had some interest in that,” he said. “We’ve also had three new small aircraft owners purchase tie-down space in the past three weeks.”

“If in the future the Glenwood airport does close, the Rifle airport will be expected to accommodate their users,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “The Rifle airport will need to mitigate the additional expense by looking for help from Glenwood Springs and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).”

“If anyone thinks the county is going to lay down $2 million, they better think again,” added Commissioner Mike Samson. “We’d better have some partners coming on board.”

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