Fly the Affordable Skies

Airfares into and out of Aspen are not cheap. United Airlines explained that it’s all about the rules of economics.

But wait — this is Aspen! Here, we have replaced the rules of economics with the rules of government. After all, the city government is, or wants to be, in at least the following businesses:

• The affordable-hotel business, to ensure that homeless skiers who have just dropped $114 on a lift ticket can spend the night here before hitchhiking back to their shelters downvalley.

• The affordable-restaurant business because they have to eat, too (slopeside, of course).

• The affordable-housing business.

• The affordable-bicycle-rental business, where for a few bucks you can rent a bike for which the government paid $6,500 and which looks like it was made for $23 in the Soviet Union.

• The free-bus business, where, oh, don’t get me started again on the stone phalluses and concrete eggs (which are apparently orphans ­— no one will admit responsibility for laying them).

• The subsidized-movie business, where the Wheeler recently announced that taxpayer money will pay for “full digital cinema projection technology” (owwhhh!).

• Imaginary hydroelectric and geothermal energy businesses because, you see, the City Council knows more about energy generation than the utility companies.

• The residential real estate market, where the city has adopted a, shall we say, contrarian approach of “buy high, sell low.”

• The health-club business because, after all, if the city didn’t keep us fit, who would?

Sorry if I left out some.

So all aboard. If the city can get into the affordable hotel, restaurant, housing, bicycle, bus, movie, hydroelectric, geothermal, residential real estate and health-club businesses, why shouldn’t an affordable-airplane business take off?

Here’s the flight plan:

First, the city must buy some airplanes. Let’s get the kind that run on the city’s imaginary geothermal and hydroelectric power.

Spend money painting the airplanes with a psychedelic ’60s motif just like the firetrucks and ambulances because people won’t use a firetruck, ambulance or airplane that is drab.

Outlaw “free market” seats in first class. The fare for the first-class seats will depend on how much of your income you disclose.

Rich people will be allowed, but they have to ride coach, they have to pay extra, they have to wear down and not fur, and they have to get vilified.

We have lots of flights around Christmas and only a few in April, even though it’s easier to get a hotel room in April. So they should delay some of the Christmas flights a few months till April.

Lots of Australians come here. I like Australians, mate, but they aren’t very diverse. So cancel the flights from Australia and launch new flights from, say, the Congo and Cambodia. Congolese and Cambodians don’t ski, you say? Well, of course not; that’s because there are no flights to Aspen.

The speed limit for the airplanes will be 18 mph.

Each flight will have at least 100 flight attendants (dressed in polyester bell-bottoms to complement the paint job on the airplane). But since they will be city employees, the 100 flight attendants will not serve the passengers. Instead, the passengers will serve the flight attendants.

Adjacent to the airport, the city can spend gobs of money on an airplane museum to give people a reason to come here, as they did with the wildly successful $5 million fire-station museum downtown.

Of course, for safety reasons, there will be height restrictions around the airport except, of course, with respect to government buildings.

They can blow a big airport horn each day at noon just to remind everyone who’s boss.

They should stencil graphics of airplanes onto the runways, just like the new bicycle graphics on all the downtown streets. That way, the pilots will know where to land the airplanes.

(By the way, I think the city should stencil little pedestrians on all the sidewalks so people will know where to walk, stencil little tricycles on all the driveways so kids will know where to ride their tricycles and stencil a clown in front of City Hall on Galena Street so that people know where the circus is.)

Speaking of the pilots, they will be the City Council. I know there’s not much expertise on council ever since we term-limited the tennis instructor who could afford only one name and the Irish bike-wrecker. But I’m sure the remaining Renaissance men and woman know just as much about flying an airplane as they do about the hotel, restaurant, bicycle, housing, bus, movie, geothermal, hydroelectric, residential real estate and health-club businesses.

Buckle up.

Published in The Aspen Times on July 11, 2013 at

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