An effort to expand the runway at Tweed New Haven Airport in order to accommodate new commercial flights stalled in the just-concluded legislative session as the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) has begun to talk up the possibility of bringing commercial flights to another shoreline airport.
The General Assembly’s Transportation Committee voted 18-3 in March to approve H.B. 7143, a bill that would enable the lengthening of the main runway of Tweed New Haven Airport from the 5,600 feet mandated by a 2009 state law to at least 6,000. Although Gov. Ned Lamont cited upgrading Tweed as part of his proposals to strengthen the state’s transportation infrastructure, the bill never gained traction and was not voted upon by either the House or Senate.
Complicating matters is the CAA’s interest in Tweed’s future. In January, the CAA and the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority established a working group to determine how to collaborate on efforts to expand the viability of the shoreline airport. Part of this working group’s agenda was supposed to involve influencing the legislature to fund capital improvements at Tweed, particularly the expansion of the main runway to at least 6,000 feet, as well as the possibility of either having the CAA acquire Tweed or establishing an operating agreement with the airport.
However, Tony Sheridan, chairman of the CAA’s board of directors, has been advocating for the commercial viability of another airport roughly a half-hour east of Tweed: Groton-New London Airport, which the CAA operates. Sheridan, who is also CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, noted the economic development and attractions within that part of the state would warrant the return of commercial flights to Groton-New London Airport, which has not had scheduled service since 2004.
“Eastern Connecticut is in a great position right now to grow, and I think business people, whether you’re in the development world or whether you’re in the airline business, will be looking at eastern Connecticut, so the timing is right,” said Sheridan in a recent interview with The Day newspaper out of New London. Sheridan added that efforts to bring back commercial service to Bridgeport’s Sikorsky Memorial Airport would not impact activities at Groton-New London Airport, as the two venues are far enough away from each other to avoid cannibalizing potential business.