With the addition of a second airline last spring, New Haven’s Tweed International Airport is gaining popularity among students looking for a convenient route home for the holidays.

At a time of year when Bradley International Airport, near Hartford, and John F. Kennedy International Airport, in New York, are especially mobbed, Tweed offers a closer and less crowded alternative that more and more out-of-state students are discovering, airport officials said. After Tweed began service to Cincinnati on Delta Airlines last May, it saw a drastic increase in business from when U.S. Airways, offering service just to Philadelphia, was the only airline operating out of New Haven.

The number of passengers traveling through Tweed this year is predicted to be 42,000, almost four times more than last year’s 15,600, before Delta was added. Airport manager Rick Lamport said he expects that after a full year with Delta’s service, the airport will bring in over 60,000 passengers.

“With all the congestion, long security lines and inconvenient transportation at other airports, people are beginning to appreciate how nice it is to have an airport in New Haven,” Lamport said. “You can get here in 10 minutes from Yale, and we are seeing a lot of people do that over the holidays.”

Offering only seven flights a day, not all students are guaranteed an ideally timed flight out of Tweed unless they book ahead of time. Flights are selling out at peak travel hours due to the increased holiday traffic.

New Haven Economic Development Administrator Henry Fernandez said although students might not get their first-choice flight if they book too late, he thinks flying out of Tweed would still benefit those who are willing to fly on either airline at any time.

“No matter what, you will still save a couple hours by not traveling out of Hartford or New York,” Fernandez said. “And the competition between airlines has driven prices down, so the fares tend to remain reasonable.”

In order to accommodate more passengers, officials at Tweed are looking into increasing the frequency of flights, number of destinations and number of airline services offered at the airport, Lamport said. Yale Travel Services manager Darlene Corgan said she thinks expanding the airport would greatly benefit the Yale community.

“People who use Tweed tell me the service is all they expected and that the airport is just what Yale needed,” Corgan said. “We recommend that all students at least keep it in their scope of options when traveling home.”

Lamport said although the airport has done a lot of marketing and advertising around New Haven, more needs to be done to let students know about its services. He said in the future, he would like to find a minibus service to run from Yale’s campus to Tweed.

“Our plan is always to make the airport more viable and convenient for the people in the area,” Lamport said.

After flying from Los Angeles through Chicago to Hartford and then busing to Yale every break since the beginning of his freshman year, Will Gurman ’07 flew through Cincinnati to Tweed for the first time over Thanksgiving. He said it was the smoothest travel day he had experienced to or from Yale.

“Tweed was great because I didn’t have to deal with an hour-long drive at the end of a long day of flying,” Gurman said. “I plan to keep booking it as long as the flights are available.”

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