After years of failed efforts to change state law, Tweed New Haven Airport scored a legal victory in its attempt to expand its main runway to enable more commercial air routes.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a 23-page decision that voided a 2009 state statute limiting the airport’s runway to 5,600 feet. The decision, which overturned a lower court ruling against the airport, acknowledged that Tweed’s runway is “one of the shortest commercial airport runways in the country” and determined that the final determination on its runway length lies with the Federal Aviation Administration and not the state.
Over the past few years, the airport has sought to expand the runway’s length to at least 6,000 feet in order to attract new commercial routes. Currently, Tweed is home to daily roundtrip service to Philadelphia and weekly roundtrip service to Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as a seasonal service to Nantucket. Gov. Ned Lamont cited upgrading Tweed as part of his proposals to strengthen the state’s transportation infrastructure, but a bill that would have allowed for the runway expansion failed to make headway in the just-concluded legislative session.
New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp welcomed the court’s ruling during a press conference at the airport.
“Make no mistake, my administration is pleased with this decision,” she said. “We hope today’s ruling signals the first step of a path toward improved air service to an estimated 1 million airline passengers in this market. We hope today’s ruling signals a first step on a path toward improved access to New Haven for all those who want to be here.”
The state has 90 days to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lamont and Connecticut Attorney General William Tong did not issue a public statement on the ruling.