Tweed New Haven Regional Airport has lost $75,000 in state funding, but its managers are not worrying.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced the $75,000 cut last week as part of $34 million in cuts to the Connecticut state budget. The airport will lose $75,000 over the next two years, representing a 5 percent cut to the $1.5 million of state funding. Adam Liegeot ’94, a spokesman for Rell, said in an interview Tuesday that Rell made the cut to help balance the budget.
But the cut will not affect the airport’s $25 million federally funded construction of two safety zones, which would allow for expansion in the future, because the construction has neared completion.
“The cuts were made evenhandedly,” Liegeot said. “Governor Rell has told state residents and state legislators that we really have no choice but to cut state spending. We have another large state deficit to tackle, and Governor Rell is determined to end this fiscal year with a balanced budget.”
Tim Larson, the executive director of the Tweed Airport Authority, which oversees the airport, said the cut will not affect Tweed’s daily functions. He predicted that cuts might have to be made to marketing and advertising, but not to operating costs.
“We understand that it’s a tough economy, and we’ll get through the $75,000 cut,” he said.
Larson also stressed that the cuts would not affect the completion of the safety zones: “We’re pretty much done,” he said about the project.
State Rep. Mike Lawlor, D-East Haven, said the cut did not specifically target the airport. When it comes to cutting state spending, once the mandatory costs such as employees’ salaries are paid, “there’s not a whole lot of places to turn,” he said.
Lawlor added that he was not surprised by the cut in state funding to the airport since “everything’s getting cut. I think we do understand why this is happening.”
Tweed’s operation and expansion has been a recent point of contention between the city of New Haven, which owns the airport, and the town of East Haven, in which part of the airport is situated.
The New Haven Chamber of Commerce and the Tweed Airport Authority have both expressed a desire to see a revitalized Tweed to stimulate New Haven’s economy. East Haven had fought plans for airport expansion until an agreement last March restricted the size of the expansion.
Currently, four to five flights depart from the airport daily and 135,000 passengers pass through the airport annually. US Airways is the only airline that operates in the airport.
Under the agreement between New Haven and East Haven, the airport would be limited to 180,000 passengers per year and 30 departures per day.
City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said in a statement that Tweed Airport will continue to push for more financial support to become a serious competitor with other small airports in the local area.
The airport may help Yale as well by providing a landing space for its business executives and commercial investors. Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 said in February that the University has regularly “committed our support for Tweed to the state government.”
Tweed Airport Authority Chairman Mark Volchek ’00 GRD ’00 said in an interview last month that the construction of the safety zones will be completed as early as next April.