Two Airport Strategy for Attracting Airline Service is Good for Connecticut

Airline growth at Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport will keep more Connecticut air travelers from driving to New York area airports.

By: John Picard, Chairman of the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority
Connecticut is very proud of Bradley International Airport; after all, it’s the 2nd busiest passenger service airport in all of New England, with only Boston Logan being any larger. Bradley is served by virtually every major US airline (American, Delta, jetBlue, Southwest & United), it boasts international service to Montreal and Toronto on Air Canada, Cancun on Delta, San Juan on jetBlue, and coming soon, service to Dublin on Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus. However, Connecticut’s pride in Bradley is so strong that anything perceived to be harmful to BDL, even if it isn’t, is almost always opposed by state lawmakers and some officials from the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA).

The vision for Bradley is that it can be an airport for all Connecticut travelers. Unfortunately, Bradley isn’t located in the center of the state, not even close. The airport is a mere 9 miles from the Massachusetts state line and many residents of western Massachusetts have easier access to Bradley than do the residents of southern Connecticut. How can an airport that is at least 90 minutes away from large portions of Connecticut residents serve them when these same residents can drive to airports in New York City in less than two hours? The fact of the matter is residents of southern Connecticut don’t fly from Bradley; they fly from airports near New York City. A recent study found that residents living in and around New Haven drove out of state to fly nearly 70% of the time. The only way to convince the residents of southern Connecticut to fly from a Connecticut airport is to ensure they have an airport close by and an expansion of Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport would do just that.

With its two airports, Bradley and Tweed; Connecticut should adopt a two airport strategy that ensures all Connecticut residents have easy and convenient access to commercial air service without needing to leave the state to find it. The positive effects of such a strategy would be many. Economically, it would allow Connecticut to better compete for business growth that would bring more jobs to the state while increasing the state’s tax base and help retain the current businesses that are already established here. There would also be a positive impact on passenger traffic at both airports, while decreasing airport travel times, and reducing automobile congestion on Connecticut’s highways.