MANHATTAN (CN) — Giving a Connecticut regional airport the all-clear for expansion, the Second Circuit slammed the state Tuesday for limiting the length of the Tweed New Haven runway.
Out of the 348 commercial airports in the U.S., Tweed New Haven ranks in at No. 13 thanks to a 2009 law Connecticut preventing runway expansion.
Though a federal magistrate sided with the state after trial, the Second Circuit reversed 3-0, ruling Connecticut’s law pre-empted by the Federal Aviation Act.
Signed by U.S. Circuit Judge Barrington Parker, the ruling describes how runway length has for years stopped Tweed from attracting new airline services.
“For example, at the time of trial, American Airlines, the one commercial airline providing service to and from the airport, was unable to safely fill its planes to capacity and was required, depending on the weather, to leave between four and nine seats empty,” Parker wrote.
Local officials hope the reversal will pave the way for more airlines to offer their services at Tweed, which has contacted approximately 10 airlines over the years without success.
Today’s ruling by the New York federal appeals court notes that, at 5,600 feet, the runway at Tweed New Haven “is one of the shortest commercial airport runways in the country, and it is the shortest runway for an airport with a catchment area as large as Tweed’s area.”
“The short length of the airport’s runway has sharply limited the availability of safe commercial air service at Tweed,” the ruling states. “The length of a runway has a direct bearing on the weight load and passenger capacity that can be handled on any given flight.”
Per federal guidelines, Tweed submitted a master plan to the FAA back in 2002 that includes extending the length of the runway up to 7,200 feet.
Representatives for the Connecticut Attorney General’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
It is unclear whether the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Governor Ned Lamont said he thinks a “modest expansion of Tweed Airport, working closely with the neighbors is going to be a big part of Connecticut’s economic future, especially in that part of the state.”