In a climate crisis, how do our leaders at Yale University and the City of New Haven justify an expansion of Tweed New Haven Airport? What sense does it make to scale up a small shoreline airport — located in a marsh, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, with no room for parking — when Bradley International Airport sits 53 miles north of us?
Yale claims that the University’s mission is to support sustainability, thought leadership and collaborative action on initiatives relating to the environment and sustainability.
This summer’s extreme heat and wildfires focused attention on the causes of climate change. To reduce carbon emissions, France banned short-haul internal flights where train alternatives exist. France is now moving to tax or ban flights by private jets. Why not a fast train to reach Hartford-Bradley in a short time?
Yale officials have pushed Tweed expansion, claiming it will bring new businesses and economic benefits to the New Haven area, while dismissing environmental and health harms the inhabitants will suffer. They no longer prioritize improved rail service; They look beyond the city’s structural poverty, health disparities and dysfunctional schools. Convenience is king, accessible air travel the key and climate commitments separate. But can airport expansion bring us the business burst they promise?
Since November, Tweed has gotten busy as a vacation and retiree hub, built around Avelo Airlines’ low-cost service. New Haven lacks the business travel demand to sustain a medium hub airport. The investors behind expansion — Wall Street billionaires who own Avelo and airport manager Avports — understand our market well. Business travel is not part of their private equity model for Tweed. They chose and financed the ultra-low-cost carrier. They negotiated a 43-year lease, giving them complete control of airport operations and substantial profitability on relatively little investment. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs know what they are doing. Does New Haven? Does Yale?
Our leaders’ arguments inspire doubts. What do the facts say? With 10 months since Avelo’s launch, Tweed can show us the results:
How many of the passenger enplanements have in fact been business travelers? How many new firms or serious investment prospects in New Haven have these flights generated? How much of the investment in the airport will Goldman Sachs fund, and how much will the Federal Aviation Administration, also known as taxpayers, fund?
As shoreline residents and voters, we demand answers to these questions. Tweed Airport and the City have access to this data; Yale and Mayor Elicker can make them answer. Show us the numbers in detail. To expand an airport during a climate crisis, to destroy wetlands and subject poor communities to greater health risks, there had better be good reasons. Without detailed answers, it looks to us like you have another agenda.
Agnès Vignery, DDS, PhD
Yale School of Medicine
Branford, CT resident
Georgia Crowley Lieber, Yale College B.A.
East Haven, CT resident