U.S. to reimburse Tweed over $18,000

With daily flights to Washington, D.C., still cut from its flight schedule, Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport remains in a lurch from a sharp downturn in passengers spurred by the Sept. 11 attacks. As the airport tries to rebound and expand, it has at least received federal funding to compensate for increased security costs.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro announced last Tuesday that a portion of the Office of Homeland Security budget would go toward reimbursing three Connecticut airports, including Tweed and Bradley International, for recent costs incurred in implementing tougher security measures. Bradley will receive $654,297, with Tweed getting $18,274.

But airports like Tweed are still reeling.

Tweed has lost 40 percent of its revenue since Sept. 11 and has cut more than $300,000 from its operating budget.

“It’s had a major impact on us. We have clearly not recovered,” said Edwin Van Selden, the chairman of Tweed’s airport authority.

At its peak in the early 1990s, four airlines flew from Tweed to six destinations. But the airport currently has only a total of five daily flights, all to Philadelphia and all flown by US Airways. Flights to Washington were eliminated when Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport closed down due to safety concerns last September. Selden said Tweed is now talking with US Airways to try to reinstate flights to Washington soon.

“It’s now coming back but we’ve got to increase the destinations,” Selden said. “And we’ve got to make sure the fares are competitive.”

Tweed is also moving forward with plans to lengthen its single runway, which would allow planes to reach airports located up to 1,000 miles from New Haven, including Atlanta, Chicago and Orlando. But critics have raised environmental, noise and traffic objections to the proposal.

DeLauro said more money will be forthcoming in the current budget for states and cities. She cited a recently passed stimulus package with unemployment insurance as an effort by the federal government to jump-start the economy and small businesses in particular.

“I still think we need to get them back on their feet again,” DeLauro said.

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