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Connecticut’s Hartford-Brainard Airport faces closure threat

The state-owned airport is part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems and is federally obligated to be maintained and operated until 2035 because Connecticut accepted FAA Airport Improvement Program grant funding in 2015.

AOPA is encouraging the city to embrace the airport and work with the Connecticut Airport Authority to expand it instead of demanding its closure.

A 2016 legislative study revealed that investing in Hartford-Brainard Airport would be the “highest and best use of the property,” AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins wrote to the council, noting that the study also credited the airport “with generating $478,000 in direct annual payments to the city in addition to generating $43 million in annual statewide economic activity—most of which is centered in the greater Hartford area.”

Collins informed the city council of the Connecticut Airport Authority’s desire to lengthen the airport’s runway and attract larger corporate aircraft to the airport, which would generate more business in the area. “Business leaders from every industry rely on airports to increase efficiency, productivity, and accessibility for their business,” Collins wrote.

AOPA is one example of an organization using the airport and generating revenue for the city. In 2007 and in 2011, we hosted events in Hartford that included Hartford-Brainard Airport. The 2007 event drew nearly 10,000 attendees, and the 2011 show brought 7,000 aviation enthusiasts and pilots to the area.

Collins also addressed the environmental aspect of the proposal to close the airport, noting that “the aviation industry accounts for a little over 2% of global [greenhouse gas] emissions.” Most of the emissions come from air carriers, Collins said, explaining that those operations do not occur at the Hartford-Brainard Airport.

In closing, Collins urged the city to work with the state and invest in the airport “so citizens of Hartford continue to benefit from this important transportation asset.”

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