Tweed to offer new flights

Tweed-New Haven Airport is expected to renew its daily flights to the Washington, D.C. metro area starting next month, after concluding a new agreement with Pan Am Clipper Connection.

The airline — owned by Boston-Maine Airways — will offer three daily flights to Baltimore-Washington Airport starting March 9. Pan Am Clipper Connection will also offer three daily flights to Elmira, N.Y., as well as daily flights to Bedford, Mass., and Portsmouth, N.H. Tickets for the flights, which will use a 19-seat turboprop plane, are currently priced at $99 for a one-way flight from New Haven to any of the four destinations.

City and University officials welcomed the new additions to the Elm City’s only regional airport, saying that they expect it to benefit the city’s economy and facilitate some students’ travel plans.

Pan Am Clipper Connection President Gordon Long said officials from the company and Tweed-New Haven have finalized the agreement, but that he could not elaborate further.

The new development is the latest in a series of initiatives at Tweed meant to boost traffic to an airport that has struggled to establish itself as a competitor to more prominent facilities, such as Bradley International Airport in Hartford and the three major New York metro area airports. Airport officials announced late last month that U.S. Airways would reduce the fare by about $69 on its flights to Philadelphia, but airline officials have not yet confirmed the change or set a date for its implementation.

Bruce Alexander, Yale’s vice president for the Office of New Haven and State Affairs and a board member of the Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority, said this latest development gives members of the Yale community more options when formulating their travel plans.

“BWI is only 30 minutes from downtown Washington, a very popular destination for Yale travelers, including staff, students and faculty, so this is a very good development,” he said.

New Haven’s 75-year-old airport is also seeking approval from the State Department of Environmental Protection to build a Runway Safety Area, which will allow the facility to complete the first of a four-step plan to expand Tweed’s flight offerings while complying with Federal Aviation Administration-mandated safety regulations. Airport officials hope to offer flights to destinations such as Florida and Chicago by 2020. They said they expect to receive the DEP’s final brief in February or March.

Mayoral spokesman Derek Slap said he is delighted to see the airport expand its flight offerings, and he hopes the airport will continue to attract new flight routes and airlines in the coming months and years.

“A new airline is definitely a good thing, and the airport is important for job growth, the business community and for Yale as well,” he said.

Students who live in the Washington, D.C., area said they are pleased with the addition of the flights to Baltimore-Washington airport, but they are unsure whether they will opt for the flights over convenient and affordable Amtrak trains.

“I usually take the train, but I think the additional flight will be convenient on occasion, and the price will be comparable,” Kimberly Bloom-Feshbach ’09 said.

Andy Davis ’09, who also takes the Amtrak train, said he does not think Pan Am Clipper’s new flight will help him because it would be more complicated and more expensive to fly to Washington D.C., even though the trip would be significantly shorter.

“Amtrak right now is the most convenient way to travel,” he said. “You can take Amtrak for $90 each way, it’s easier to get to, and it is less of a hassle with security.”

U.S. Airways offered a flight from Tweed to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport until 2001, when it cancelled the flight route following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

City officials said they would make a formal announcement of the new flights during a press conference Wednesday.

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