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March 23, 2020

SCOTUS: State’s Tweed Airport appeal does not fly

PHOTO | New Haven BIZ An American Eagle commuter jet taxis for takeoff at Tweed-New Haven Airport. 

On Monday morning the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not take up the state’s request to review a federal appeals court ruling that Tweed-New Haven Airport could proceed in efforts to lengthen its main runway to accommodate larger commercial aircraft and pave the way for enhanced commuter jet service.

A state statute enacted in 2009 barred Tweed from extending its main runway beyond its current 5,600-foot length, even if the extension remained within the existing airport boundaries. That legislation was the product of a negotiated settlement between then-New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and April Capone, at the time mayor of East Haven. Owned by the City of New Haven, Tweed’s geographic footprint is partly in East Haven.

State Attorney General William Tong early last December petitioned the high court to review last July’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that the 2009 state statute limiting the lengthening of the Tweed runway was superseded by federal aviation law.

The SCOTUS decision not to hear Tong v. Tweed-New Haven Airport effectively paves the way, as it were, for Tweed’s long-planned expansion.

“We vigorously pursued our case to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Tong in a statement earlier this afternoon. “While we strongly believe the Court should have granted [certiorari] in this case, we respect the court’s decision.”

"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny review of the court of appeals' decision means that after ten years of limitations, Tweed-New Haven Airport is finally free to pursue expanding our runway within our existing property lines and to meet the growing demand for more frequent air service in southern Connecticut,” said Tweed Executive Director Sean Scanlon in a statement.

"The decision from the Supreme Court that the appeal regarding the expansion of Tweed-New Haven Airport will not be heard, brings the matter to a close," said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker in a statement.

"Now the real work begins for the city, the airport, and all our residents of the East Shore and Morris Cove neighborhoods to collaborate on a plan that will benefit all," the mayor added. "It is important that we work together and include our residents every step of the way."

According to Garrett Sheehan, president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, which has placed Tweed expansion at the head of its list of economic-development priorities for 2020: "The business community celebrates this court decision as another step towards better air service in New Haven and our region. Our businesses have repeatedly told us that more flights and destinations will make this a better place to do business.

“We realize there are many more steps and conversations that have to be had to actually expand the runway,” Sheehan added. “We are committed to being a part of this process and seeing this through to improved air service in New Haven."

Tweed is currently served by just one commercial carrier, American Eagle, which offers daily service to Philadelphia and one weekly flight to Charlotte, N.C.

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