Record number of private jets expected into Jackson Hole
Private aircraft, jet charters and their passengers are expected to arrive at Jackson Hole for this month’s total eclipse.
On 21 August, the total eclipse will pass over Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at 11.35 am, for two minutes and 20 seconds. There will also be a partial eclipse lasting for more than two and a half hours.
The Jackson Hole valley includes Grand Teton National Park and is adjacent to the Yellowstone National Park. On the exact centerline of the eclipse totality, the southern part of Grand Teton National Park is one of the best places in the entire US to view this event.
A major summer vacation destination even without a total eclipse, Jackson Hole and the Parks are expected to exceed all-time records for visitors, lodging and traffic.
This demand for the eclipse event is resulting in record private jet and charter aircraft traffic at the Jackson Hole Airport, already a popular hub for private jet travel and one of the top three summer mountain resort airport destinations in the US, along with Aspen, CO, and Sun Valley, ID. Located in the Grand Teton National Park, it is the only airport in the country inside a national park.
The eclipse’s centerline path of totality will pass directly over the airport itself. Private jet traffic surrounding the 21 August date, however, will be far from eclipsed.
August is peak season and already a busy month for private jet activity in Jackson Hole, with daily private air operations averaging over 50 arrivals or departures plus more than 20 aircraft parking on the ramp overnight.
Aircraft parking at Jackson Hole Aviation, the local FBO/private terminal, is expected to jump to near-capacity with ramp space possibly filled and the potential of aircraft being turned away. Depending on the volume of air traffic into Jackson Hole, the Federal Aviation Authority may implement Special Traffic Management Programs (STMP) for private aircraft, where advance reservations known as “slots” are needed for arrivals or departures.
New Flight Charters is headquartered in Jackson Hole. The company monitors jet charter activity to and from Jackson Hole and is reporting up to ten times the normal activity of private charter aircraft to and from Jackson Hole Airport during this time. The busiest period is 18-23, with peak traffic on 18 and 22 August.
“Right now, August 18 looks to be busier than a December 26 at the airport. We knew this would be busy but the numbers we are seeing are amazing.”
Rick Colson, president of New Flight Charters, said: “Right now, August 18 looks to be busier than a December 26 at the airport. We knew this would be busy but the numbers we are seeing are amazing.”
The day after Christmas is normally the busiest day of the year for private jet arrivals, bringing winter vacationers to Jackson Hole and its world-renowned ski destination Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Four Seasons Resort and other high-end lodgings.
Commercial airline traffic will increase as well. An additional 15 commercial flights will be landing and departing between 18 and 23 August – three more per day than normal. The Jackson Hole Airport is already the busiest airport in Wyoming.
The airport is planning for the eclipse. It is limiting access for those both on the ground and in the air, to help manage crowds and traffic. The runway will be closed for one hour around the totality at 11:35am, from 30 minutes before to 30 minutes afterwards. And those driving to the airport that day will need their private aircraft’s tail number, an airline boarding pass, or a legitimate reason to access to the airport.
Grand Teton National Park, where Jackson Hole Airport is located, is bracing itself for its busiest day ever. The Park and Teton County are preparing for potential gridlocked roads, overwhelmed cell phone networks, and completely full public areas including parking lots, campgrounds, boat ramps, and roadway pullouts.