Despite bankruptcy, Tweed service constant

Air service will remain constant in New Haven for at least the remainder of 2002, according to recently released airline schedules.

U.S. Airways, the sole air carrier currently servicing Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport, released its fall and winter flight schedules on Aug. 30 with service to the Elm City unchanged.

New Haven airport officials had feared that U.S. Airways might reduce New Haven service after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Aug. 10. The airline announced two weeks ago in a press release that it intended to eliminate approximately 200 daily flights by the end of the calender year, or 13 percent of its schedule.

U.S. Airways’ four daily flights between New Haven and Philadelphia represent Tweed’s only commercial air service.

But while the airport’s service remains intact, the leadership of the Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority is changing.

Edwin Van Selden, the authority’s director, announced last month that he will resign at the end of the year. During his five years as authority director, Van Selden focused on designing a master plan for Tweed’s next two to three decades of operation.

Lawrence DeNardis, the chairman of the 15-member civilian authority and president of the University of New Haven, said Van Selden will not be replaced in the near term.

“Van [Selden] has been instrumental in bringing us through that crucial period of time of creating a master plan,” DeNardis said. “It is done, and we are now entering the next phase.”

The master plan has entered the final phase of the approval process, DeNardis said. Implementation will begin immediately.

Van Selden could not be reached for comment because he was out of the country on vacation.

Rick Lamport, the airport’s manager, said Van Selden’s departure will not affect Tweed’s day-to-day operations. He added that Van Selden’s resignation and the airline industry’s recent tailspin are unrelated.

“That’s purely coincidental,” Lamport said. “But service remains intact.”

Van Selden’s program to upgrade Tweed to reattract jet service continued throughout the summer.

In late July, the airport welcomed a $1.4 million fire station, drastically improving the emergency services available.

Van Selden advocated further amenities to attract large carriers, including the lengthening of runways. Airport officials said the engineering work has begun on the 1,000-foot runway safety areas that would lie on either end of the main runway. Following the design phase, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection will consider approving the zones.

But officials said that airlines are in the midst of a tough financial period and it could be years before the airport’s improvements bear fruit.

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