Tweed Suing State Over Runway

Tweed-New Haven Airport’s board is taking to court its quest to lengthen its main runway.

The airport authority’s board voted 11-2 Wednesday, with one abstention, to file a lawsuit against the state seeking to declare illegal a 2009 law limiting the main runway to 5,600 feet.

Tweed wants to extend the runway from its current 4,600 to 6,100 feet. Officials say that’s necessary to attract more commercial airline service, which business leaders claim is still possible to attract and would help the economy. The proposal has sparked vocal opposition in the Morris Cove neighborhood, where people accuse city officials of breaking a 2009 promise not to seek a longer runway. Not all neighbors oppose the plan; candidates were divided on the issue in the most recent Democratic alder primary, where a candidate staking out the opposition position lost.

Airport Authority Executive Director Tim Larson said in a release after Wednesday’s meeting that changes in the airline industry require Tweed to have the longer runway to attract any new service or perhaps even to maintain existing American Airlines flights.

“The airlines are telling us they need a minimum runway length of 6,000 feet and that they prefer 6,600 feet to accommodate wind and weather conditions. We can do either extension within the existing boundary of the airport,” Larson is quoted saying. “... [T]he market has changed and we need to respond to the market.”

Click here to read the full Tweed release as well as the resolution approved by the board.


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posted by: KNB on November 18, 2015  9:32pm

Executive Director Larson’s comment that airlines are saying they need a 6000 foot runway goes against what is reported in The Tweed Authority’s minutes in June.  In those minutes it was stated

“One of the airlines that showed interest would explore flights to Florida 3-5 times a week. They are not concerned about the RSA’s and actually consider it an asset as their regional jets are able to land and take-off while others do not have that ability providing the airline with the security of little to no competition for passenger.”  See here for the minutes:

So - why should we believe anything from Tweed - when the executive director does not accurately report what its own minutes record?  Some airlines may want a longer runway - but Larson’s statement makes it sound like all airlines want this and they do not.  Again, we get falsehoods from the airport.  This is why so many oppose it.  It makes promises only to break them.  Lies to the neighborhood. Distorts information about its market etc.  Moreover, Tweed’s idea that an airline will come if only they build it flies in the face of all airline market analyses that have been done over the last few years.  Small and mid size airports are losing traffic not gaining.  And, the smallest like Tweed are the ones losing the most.  The airline industry fundamentally changed after 2008.  Tweed wants our tax money - and in the end - they will provide nothing for it.  It is time to say no to Tweed.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 18, 2015  10:02pm

Lawsuit Desperation Notes:

1. Suing the state is suing the taxpayers.

2. Taxpayers at the state and local level have been making dependency payments to Tweed for years and this is the gratitude it shows.

3. Effective immediately, New Haven and the state should cut off all taxpayer funded payments to Tweed, refuse to sign off on any more bonding, and make it clear to the federal government, that Tweed is on it’s own, that taxpayers will no longer backstop further debt or responsibility for any more federal grants that would inhibit Tweed’s sale and redevelopment.

4. If the Tweed board thinks Tweed is so important, then I suggest members of the board go back to their companies and tell them to cough up the dough instead of raiding the pockets of taxpayers.

5. Tweed signed off on that deal in 2009. Now they want to renege on it. So what if airline demands have changed? And the basis of the lawsuit is what?


posted by: RhyminTyman on November 19, 2015  9:53am

Tweed really needs to expand. While it will annoy the people I’m Morris Cove, it would greatly benefit the city. It is not like they want to be as large as even Bradley or even expand outside of land owned by the airport already. Being an hour away from Bradley or more from the New York airports really makes the city unattractive to businesses.

posted by: Renewhavener on November 19, 2015  10:30am

Yes.  It should be lengthened.  Further than 6,300’ if need be.  More later.

posted by: ILivehere on November 19, 2015  11:37am

good for tweed! why should a few people who purchased property next to an airport get to hold us all hostage. Its like buying a house next to a bar and then complaining about noise.

posted by: RHeerema on November 19, 2015  12:08pm

Check out how much city, state and federal money has already been sunk into Tweed airport before supporting their efforts to pave more runway.

In this economy—where MOST airports and airlines are reducing flights/services—paving doesn’t make more planes fly.  This is a desperate gamble of our tax dollars and our region’s health to keep this business viable. 

American Airlines has already announced a reduction of scheduled flights through Tweed (9/16/15 Tweed board minutes), which may or may not be temporary.

If what we’re REALLY after is JOBS for New Haven residents, there are much better ways to spend this amount of money for higher, more reliable outcomes.

posted by: TheMadcap on November 19, 2015  12:33pm

Good, I hope they win

posted by: westville man on November 19, 2015  1:58pm

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again- pave the runway to it’s footprint and let’s give it 5 years.  We will then know who’s right and who’s wrong.  But it’s an important enough asset to at least let it reach it’s potential within its borders.
Don’t let a few hundred small minded NIMBYS decide for the rest of us. Like I’ve also said,  we have enough of that right here in Westville with the Yale Bowl and Tennis Center.

posted by: lad on November 19, 2015  4:08pm

The runway expansion seems like a no brainer to those residents who do not live near the airport. The residents in both New Haven and East Haven who are neighbors of the airport are a small number of people compared to the the number of people who do not live near the airport.

It is important to remember that the airport grew among the residents and not visa versa. As an East Haven Resident whose 100 Yr old house now is in the direct crash zone and is directly under the landing approach for all air traffic landing.. Prior to the previous extension the crash zone and landing pattern was in our backyard.

It saddens me to know that the airport is suing the state to overturn the 2009 agreement. It saddens me because I know that politics will win,that much needed state dollars will be spent needlessly in order to ” win” the lawsuit, that to quote a previous comment “don’t let a few hundred small minded NIMBYS decide for the rest of us”  this also saddens me because a few hundred of us are no more small minded than the rest of them… we just happen to live near the airport and the rest don’t..

I have no delusions that the runway will be expanded because it will be done legislatively and the airport authority will be able to say we had no choice because the neighbors did not want to cooperate and we ad no choice but to sue.

posted by: RhyminTyman on November 19, 2015  4:44pm

Give me a break lad. Tweed is almost 85 years old. Generates of home owners have come and gone. You’re objecting to slightly more traffic and holding the region hostage because you under free will bought a home near an airport. if you are going to argue that the cost of the expansion don’t justify benefits that is another story. I grew up near Bradley and people would buy homes then complain that Bradley was too loud. What do people expect?

posted by: steve on November 19, 2015  4:46pm

To KNB, while flights to Florida would be nice, it only constitutes a very small percentage of where most people want to go. Tweed needs service to 2 to 4 airline hubs such as Chicago,Charlotte and Atlanta.
With the present runway, those flights are not going to happen. For those who say it’s not needed because Air Force has landed at Tweed, that plane had a load much less than half of what it would have in airline service.
Several airlines in the past surveyed Tweed to start new service and those plans failed due to the short runway.
To Noteworthy, the 2009 MOA was flawed. Several glaring deficiencies are apparent when one takes the time to read and research it. 
To lad,well over 90% of those living near the airport did so well after the airport was built.What do they expect,the airport to stay the same way it was back in 1931? And why all the fear of the airport adding a modest number of flights? Tweed will never rival Bradley or Westchester airports. Don’t let posts by those who seek to incite fear keep one from looking at the whole picture.
Bradley is almost in Massachusetts and the New York airports are a hassle on the way to the airports and a zoo at the airports. I have found Tweed to be the easiest airpoirt to use and so have tens of thousand every year.

posted by: westville man on November 20, 2015  10:18am

Lad-  since you quoted me, also note that I am “saddened” that in my own neighborhood NIMBYS have blocked sporting and music events at Yale Bowl and the Tennis Center.  The Bowl is 101 yrs old- it was there when I got here….and everyone else in neighborhood. A few hundred (or less) of them have ruined it for you and everyone else who might enjoy those events.

posted by: Renewhavener on November 20, 2015  2:16pm

Building on prior comment(s), part I:

Not only should the runway be extended, but the North East Corridor (NEC) rail infrastructure extending east from New Haven should be reconfigured to make Tweed intermodal, as it should have been from the start.  The nexus of this could occur where the implied line of the primary run-way intersects with I-95/US1.  The residents north of the airport will no doubt continue to object, but would counter-argue that this is a more than worthy vision for the area’s next megaproject.  It levers everything we have worked to build over the last ten years and amplifies those improvements for easily another half-century by funneling in and out an ever wider spectrum of people, ideas and investment.

Moreover, once complete it will have the added benefit of opening up revitalization opportunities for transit oriented development in the Annex and Fair Haven Heights, both thoroughly neglected by the city’s latest “vision statement”: A project of this scale and benefit will also include those in East Haven who wish to live in the mid-twenty-first in lieu of the mid-twentieth century…

posted by: Renewhavener on November 20, 2015  2:19pm

...Part II:

If that opportunity cannot be grasped, then move the airport to co-locate with rail elsewhere!  Another potentially viable piece of land stretches from East Rock to Universal Drive.  In this case, environmental champions will rise up in objection.  However, this area is already a heavily industrial use, it ties in more readily with the proposed upgrades to the NH-Springfield line, and comports to the Federal Rail Administration’s (FRA) overall vision for NEC proposed recently:

Freda in North Haven has the ambition to make a move this heroic, but, as a Republican, perhaps not the essential linkages with New Haven, State and Federal officials necessary to realize it.

It goes without saying that even a partial loss of passenger rail volume through New Haven would be sub-optimal, so while we are working to make this critical interconnection, we should be resisting plans floated by FRA to bypass New Haven and send rail north through Danbury.  Malloy, quite rightly in this case, seems ready to do so, and even to double-down with even more rail investment between NYC & NH, an investment mind you that would be triple the cost to relocate Tweed:

Arguably the largest and most important metropolis in the world stretches from Massachusetts to Virginia.  It is a lack of cohesive vision and political will that stands in the way of making New Haven among the most distinctive places within it.

posted by: steve on November 20, 2015  2:53pm

To RHeerema, the airport is a good place for job creation but some just don’t understand the many benefits of a viable airport. Years ago Canadair wanted to build an east coast service center at Tweed for its business jets.Now imagine the number and quality of the jobs that would have been filled by area residents but the proposal was shot down when their requirements were not meet and now the service center is up at Bradley field. Fed-Ex wanted to add a stop at Tweed with one daily flight and the small minded mayor of New Haven did not welcome their plans.
Adding more flights means more jobs,not Walmart jobs or “do you want fries with that” jobs.You are way over your head in understanding how Tweed can be an economic engine for the area, more jobs,increased patronage at local business and more airport related jobs along with more income for the airport which will reduce its dependency on local funding. 
Some feel they are taking the moral high road in opposing Tweed,but the few uninformed locals are the ones who do the most damage by spewing inaccurate posts. I have seen many posters make comments that are not related to real world airport and airline operations.
Instead of marching in protest at the state capital, why not go on and see other airports, their runway lengths and the the level of service they provide for area travelers. Tweed is way underserved as evidenced by the boarding numbers of years ago when United offered service to Chicago. They finally left after almost 5 years due to the limited runway. Pick your battles carefully,Tweed is not the enemy.

posted by: Renewhavener on November 20, 2015  3:12pm

@Steve, compliments, you clearly get it.

posted by: RHeerema on November 20, 2015  4:06pm

@Steve - the most important repeated phrase in your post is “years ago.”  Tweed was going down hill in enplanements well before the Dash 8 issue was raised. The taxpayer investment to make Tweed viable is too high.  Think about the “return on investment.”  $35 million is the figure that Sen. Tim Larson is using.  What’s the return on that? Have we seen it?  No. Not in in French fries or any other metric you’d like to use.

Take yourself to and read about the shrinkage of regional airports across the United States. 

We do not have infinite resources. Turn off the taxpayer spigot.

posted by: steve on November 20, 2015  6:51pm

To RHeerema, you still don’t get it. For years while other airport were growing and adding flights,Tweed was stuck in neutral. All it could offer was the Dash-8 flights to Philadelphia which by the way do quite well.Cities the size of the New Haven metro area have more service than Tweed has and it all has to do with the length of the runway.Northwest tried twice to add new service to Detroit and both times even with different aircraft,it was determined that at times a 90 seat airliner could only depart with 47 seats filled. Don’t blame the airport or its management.Over the years Tweed had legal challenges regarding the (ILS) instrument landing system,on airport fire station,clearing trees in the flight path,etc.Do you see a pattern here?Tweed now has an ILS,trees have been trimmed,utility poles re-positioned,and the fire station is a reality.The only impediment to increased service is the limited runway.Even some opposed have said that Tweed could support more service than it has now and in doing so,its income will rise and keep travelers money spent in the local area and not out of town.
Many more are for improving the airport than opposed and what harm would come if Tweed added 4 to 8 daily flights?The talk of illness from aircraft and traffic jams are products of an over active imagination. Let Tweed reach its potential and be an asset for travelers and the creator of more jobs and increased business for local merchants.Your arguments hold no water,airlines have hundreds of new aircraft on order and are adding new service to many airports and for years Tweed has been left behind for years but now the time has come to make up for lost time.Service to 3 to 4 hub airports would be welcomed by many,many area travelers.

posted by: steve on November 20, 2015  8:51pm

To Renewhavener, wow,you really spent some time on envisioning some thing on a grand scale. Many things should have been done years ago to connect Tweed to the city when residents were reasonable and not so militant, and ready to protest at the drop of a hat. But Tweed is where it is and after decades of being ignored and left behind while other airports upgraded their facilities,Tweed stands at the crossroads, the trees have been cleared,the control tower is staying,the ILS landing system and other visual aids are up to date,the terminal can handle more traffic than it does now and parking is sufficient. When the runway is upgraded,I expect American airlines to add service to Charlotte.Later I could see Delta adding service to Detroit and perhaps also Atlanta. I don’t claim to have inside information but I do follow airline trends and have seen this type of situation before at other small airports.
Tweed is woefully under served and a few years ago it was rated as the most under served airport in the country.Not a record to be proud of.

posted by: steve on November 20, 2015  9:01pm

To RHeerema, not all small airports are shrinking. My son lives near Roanoke,Virginia and while the population base is smaller than the New Haven metro area,it enjoys a healthy level of air service due to an 800 foot overrun added to the main runway. It enabled non-stop flights to Florida 4 times a week and these have proved to be very popular with the local residents. You speak of the 35 million spent at Tweed, that has been over the course of years and all the upgrades that were done were needed to bring up to modern standards. Only one more project is needed to turn Tweed into a regional airport, the runway.You talk about taxes, the runway project will be 90% funded by the FAA and not with income tax dollars, but with fees added to every airline ticket sold. I could name other small airports that are growing and remember,Tweeds growth was stunted for years and airlines were turned away due to the limited runway,not a lack of demand.

posted by: New Haven Taxpayer on November 20, 2015  9:06pm

You seem to like to proclaim all these inherent virtues a new longer runway would bestow upon greater New Haven. All of it is conjecture and optimistic fantasy. Some proof from independent sources may help me believe what you say is true and not driven by your personal desires.
You continue to make me laugh:
“the 2009 MOA was flawed. Several glaring deficiencies are apparent when one takes the time to read and research it.”
-Did Tim Larson, the Airport’s Board of Directors, or the Mayors of East Haven and New Haven take the time? If no, then THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE SIGNED IT. But they did sign it and now some Taxpayers want them to live with it and not sue us for more of our money.
And Steve, your arrogance is appalling too:
“You are way over your head in understanding how Tweed can be an economic
engine”. & “the few uninformed locals are the ones who do the most damage by spewing inaccurate posts.”
WOW you are soooo knowledgeable, please enlighten us with your unsubstantiated facts! Steve, you sir, are the one spewing inaccuracies.

See you at the community meetings, I’ll be the one with the torch & pitchfork.

posted by: steve on November 21, 2015  7:55pm

To New Haven Taxpayer, some of the airlines that approached Tweed on starting new service were, Northwest airlines,once with DC-9-30 jets to Detroit and it was found that under certain weather conditions only 47 passengers could be accommodated, some time later they proposed service with CRJ-200,American airlines had Tweed on a list for new service to Chicago,Southwest meet with the mayor and surveyed the airport and guess what?Same results.When the 2009 MOA was drafted,it was thought that the tree trimming would be all that was needed but while it helped it was not enough to make it possible for regional jets to operate in all conditions.A mistake was made,we have all made errors but then its time to correct them.In business I have had to rewrite estimates,get new price quotes,etc.When commercial buildings are constructed,many times there are cost overruns,do you leave the building unfinished?Thousands depend on the airport for airline flights,jobs,aircraft repair,flight training,etc.If you can’t see that Tweed can support more flights then you don’t know the demand it the local area and that the 4 daily flights to Philadelphia are not enough.
The Roanoke,Va airport shows that upgrading the runway can attract new service. Other airports with runways in the 6000 foot category are the White plains airport,Chicago Midway airport,State college airport,PA, Trenton,NJ. Its not arrogance,some of the posts about Tweed have been loaded with wild rants such as the airport will cause serious illness,traffic jams and one said with larger planes the runway will sink. All nonsense.I call out such posters to verify their claim and never get a verifiable reply.See mp exhibits/CHIII/EX_III-1-8_Rwy-Length.pdf   See the runway needed for an ERJ-145 compared to the Dash-8 Tweeds runway has been the same since 1972 and while runway 2 affords 5600 for landing,runway 20 is about 5200 feet. Hows that for facts.

posted by: New Haven Taxpayer on November 21, 2015  10:33pm

Hey Steve,

Better get some better “facts”. Below are the enplanements from Roanoke, according to their “The Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Comprehensive Economic Development. Strategy”. Their last runway extension happened in 2002.
Their busiest year was 2 years BEFORE the expansion and pretty flat since.
Nice try.
2000 364,202
2001 304,265 -16.46%
2002 298,606 -1.86%
2003 298,055 -0.18%
2004 306,896 2.97%
2005 326,202 6.29%
2006 326,214 0.00%
2007 348,634 6.87%
2008 315,293 -9.56%
2009 297,588 -5.62%
2010 316,478 6.35%
2011 320,961 1.42%

posted by: on November 22, 2015  5:04am

There are already a lot of good comments here that explain the problems with this lawsuit and Tweed expansion plans in general.  Read what we have to say (so far) here:

...we’ll be organizing very heavily around the #5600ft issue and this outrageous lawsuit in the weeks and months ahead.

posted by: steve on November 22, 2015  1:57pm

To New Haven Taxpayer, If you noticed I said the Roanoke airport runway upgrade allowed for Allegiant airlines to offer non-stop flights to Florida. The rise and fall of boarding numbers are common among many airports. 2001 boarding’s drop can be attributed to 9-11.The other big drop in 2008 was due to the economic meltdown. Most if not all airports had declined boarding’s during these times.
Still did you notice the yearly totals,far more than Tweed has or ever had and yet the Roanoke metro area is smaller and the per capita income is less.
The best year Tweed ever had was in the 90’s at over 130,000 yearly boarding’s.Tweed can support more service but it will take the runway overruns to be paved.
Both polls taken in the New Haven Independent show over 75% of area residents are in favor of upgrading the runway so more service can be offered.
For the area that Tweed serves,its present level of service is woefully too low. Tweed experiences what the airline business calls passenger leakage. Without more service options,many travel to other farther away airports and Tweed’s lost business affects more than just the airport,it affects local businesses and jobs.
I still find it hard to understand why a few are so opposed to a facility that has part of the area landscape for almost 90 years. The talk about the airport causing serious illness,traffic jams,etc are not supported by the facts.Some in the past have tried scare tactics such as saying “Tweed wants to bring in 747’s.” 747’s don’t even land at Bradley but some were influenced by such mindless talk. Let Tweed fill its roll as a regional airport and nothing more.

posted by: Renewhavener on November 23, 2015  10:55am, You are the epitome of disproportionate rhetoric and misguided energy.  From your site: “We are a nonpartisan coalition of New Haven and East Haven residents, working together to ensure we are not ignored as Tweed’s relentless expansion continues.”  What “relentless expansion” are you referring to here?  There is nothing “relentless” happening at all, other than the shriek of self-import attached to your exertion.  It is as if we have forgotten as a society how to have a debate, and worst still, how to set meaningful priorities.

Tweed is a tool for moving people and goods in and out of our community rapidly.  Sadly it is undersized and isolated from synergistic resources.  Cure both and fell increased benefits, or do not and feel increased stagnation.  Would welcome you and those similarly likeminded to stop the irrational indigence and try to gain a wider perspective.  As a warm-up exercise to that end, perhaps between moaning about high-taxes around the thanksgiving table, ask what you are you actually doing to promote growth?  What can you claim among you accomplishments that has increased the base so that we might all pay less? 

There is a cornucopia of forces that cause investment to be deployed inefficiently in the Northeast.  Appeasement of shrill objections like yours is part of why investment flows elsewhere.

posted by: New Haven Taxpayer on November 24, 2015  5:53pm

Relentless’ in the fact the airport begged to have the homes they aquired re-zoned to add to the airport and have grassy over runs installed, re-route a river and move a road.  AND promise not to ask for more.

posted by: steve on November 24, 2015  7:48pm

To New Haven Taxpayer, well what should the airport do? Waste the investment made at the airport over the years,lose commercial service,lose any hope of gaining new service? The road has already been moved and the area for the paved overruns is in place.A city like New Haven and the surrounding area having only 4 airline flights a day does not speak well of the business climate to current and future corporations looking at the local area.
All one has to do is look at other airports that offer a decent level of service and see the spin off businesses that it encourages.The New Haven area has lost out on some very attractive companies moving into the area due to the shortcomings of airport. Canadair,Fed-Ex,and an American airlines reservation center and possibly others that I am not aware of.
Trains are for short trips and hardly anyone travels by bus anymore. A city having an airport within its boarders is a positive thing and when one considers that the heavy lifting has already been done,land graded at the end of the runways,Dodge avenue rerouted,tree cleared,utility poles relocated,the runway repaved and taxiways extended,and the terminal and parking are able to handle more flights,it would be foolish to let the airport lose commercial service and the related jobs and the signal sent to the business world that if you desire good air service,look elsewhere.
The 2009 MOA was flawed,not only from an operational stand point but also from the view area and future businesses. Corporations move mostly by air, not bus or train.
And certainly not to forgotten is the every day traveler who would be able to fly from a nearby airport and not going almost up to Massachusetts or to the mess on the highway and the airports known the New York city airports to board a flight. Nothing else stands in the way of Tweed adding new flights but the paving of the overruns that are already in place. Not doing so would be a waste of the improvements that have already been done.