Opinion: Hopeful about expansion plans at Tweed

Tweed New Haven Regional Airport as photographed on October 25, 2022.

Tweed New Haven Regional Airport as photographed on October 25, 2022.

Arnold Gold, Staff Photographer / Hearst Connecticut Media

Tweed-New Haven Airport has played a large part in my life. I grew up 1.5 miles away, and one of my favorite childhood memories was going to watch the planes take off and land with my father. We saw many different types of aircraft from private to commercial to military, all serving the Greater New Haven area. I remember a Yale professor flying low above our town in his WWII-era Grumman Bearcat. When I turned 15, I took my first flying lessons at Tweed.

All these years later, and after a long period of underutilization, I’m now watching as the airport is once again growing and serving as an economic driver for our region. I was heartened to see another important step taken toward that future when the airport recently issued its draft environmental assessment, which showed that the proposed improvements at Tweed — specifically a lengthened runway and construction of a modern terminal — will actually improve the airport’s future environmental impact. From noise, to air quality, to traffic, the planned changes at the airport are ready to be done in an environmentally sound fashion.

This airport can and should serve as a crucial transportation hub for the New Haven area. It did so for decades, providing a gateway to the region for visitors and a convenient departure point for local travelers. Of course, despite its importance to the community, it’s no secret that it also faced challenges in recent years, including declining passenger traffic and outdated facilities. But make no mistake — the changes at Tweed aren’t about creating something this region has never seen before, they’re about restoring the airport to its full use and potential.

In the late 1960s, New Haven Airways was the local fixed base operator, or FBO, at Tweed. As a local kid, I worked there at various times in different roles. I started with Pilgrim Airlines’ shuttle from New Haven to JFK, then went to New Haven Airways, and worked for Robinson Aviation, Tweed’s current FBO, as well. Over the years many airlines have served at Tweed, including Eastern, US Airways, United, Continental and American Airlines.

Service to and from Tweed began to decline in the late 1990s, however, and for much of the last decade HVN was nothing like the bustling airport of my youth. Then Avelo showed up.

Now, finally, there’s air traffic at HVN once again. Avelo’s presence has shown the value of having a regular commercial service at Tweed. In talking to my family and friends, everyone loves what Avelo has brought to our region. It’s an hour by car to Bradley or Westchester without traffic and 1.5 hours to Providence. Avelo provides regular, affordable service, which is a big deal for southern Connecticut travelers.

Tweed’s proposed expansion will make the airport even better, including making it safer for flyers and visitors. Expanding Tweed’s runway will not only allow for more advanced planes that will allow for service at additional destinations, it will also ensure that takeoffs and landings are safer for everyone, including the use of new lighting system upgrades.

Tweed’s expansion is not just about the airport itself. HVN serves as a gateway to the entire region, providing a crucial link between New Haven and other parts of the country and the world. Moreover, the economic benefits of the expansion are significant and would help to support the local economy and attract new businesses and investors to the area. This project is an investment in the future of our community and will ensure that New Haven remains a great place to live, work, and visit for generations to come.

Lewis (Lew) Langella is a resident of East Haven.