Getting from the Elm City to the nation’s capital may soon be a lot easier.
City officials met with major businesses and Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport officials on Wednesday to discuss a proposal to add a direct flight to Washington-Dulles International Airport.
At the meeting, the Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority presented their plan to the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven, the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, major businesses and institutions, including Yale. The new service would consist of three round-trip flights per day on a 19-seat aircraft operated by Buzz Airways, which currently only has flights out of Branson, Mo. Tickets would cost between $99 and $299, depending on the day of purchase.
The flights, if approved, would compete with Amtrak Acela, an express train that offers tickets to Washington, typically starting at roughly $150, and currently accounts for 56 percent of passenger travel between New Haven and the D.C. area, according to the Airport Authority’s presentation on Wednesday.
“Because of our price structure, we would offer a better value than the Amtrak Acela,” Executive Director of the Airport Authority Tim Larson said.
Six Yale students interviewed who are from Washington, D.C. said they currently use Amtrak to travel home at least three times per year. However, all six expressed interested in flying home as long as ticket prices are lower than Amtrak Acela.
Austin Campbell ’16 said his decision about whether to take the train or a flight home would be based solely on price, since travel time is about equal. He said that air travel takes equally long as the train when factoring in the time for security checks.
The proposal, however, also addresses this potential increase in travel time. Because the proposed flights are charter flights, passengers would not have to go through security to reach their gates. Instead, passengers would take a mobile lounge to their aircraft and would only be required to present an acceptable form of ID to board the plane.
“In actuality, it’s no different than getting on a bus or train,” Larson said. “This would make a very speedy and expeditious trip. You will get to the airport 10 minutes before your flight leaves, walk on the facility and get on the plane.”
Tweed Airport is already prepared to deal with an increasing number of flights and passenger flow, according to City Hall spokesperson Laurence Grotheer. He added that the state is working towards runway improvements that would enhance Tweed’s ability to accommodate more flights and provide better service.
Still, the added flights to D.C. are not yet finalized. The Airport Authority is currently seeking sponsors to help fund the expansion and demonstrate that the community supports the added flights, Larson said. He added that part of the goal of Wednesday’s meeting was to reach out to businesses in the Greater New Haven area that could potentially serve as sponsors.
“We got a great response from the business community,” Larson said. “They understand the value of the trip to and from Washington, D.C.”
Larson said the flights would specifically benefit Yale because the flights would land in the international wing of Dulles Airport, and Yale has a significant number of international travelers.
Richard Jacob, Yale’s associate vice president for federal and state relations, who travels to Washington on a regular basis, said a number of University faculty and staff have welcomed the idea of direct flights to the Washington, D.C. area.
Going forward, the Airport Authority will gauge community interest in the project and work alongside the city to further develop the plan and schedule a date for its implementation, according to a press release from the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven.