Tweed announcement a sign of bigger things
Connecticut is looking to plug a hole in its regional economy. Though there are many businesses that call the state home, along with an educated workforce and a high quality of life, transportation remains a weak spot — specifically travel by air. There is Bradley International Airport, of course, but it’s far from the state’s economic center in Fairfield County. The closest full-service airports to that part of the state are in and around New York City, and anyone who frequents them will tell you — at length — how enjoyable that experience can be.
So news that Tweed New Haven Regional Airport is ramping up service has raised hopes around the region. Avelo Airlines, the new airline coming to Tweed, announced this week it would begin service Nov. 3 with nonstop flights to four Florida destinations: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando and Tampa.
More destinations are likely to be announced soon, and as an inducement the introductory fares are being offered at only $59. This would be the first time commercial service has been available between New Haven and Florida, and begin the process of ramping up service at Tweed that was announced earlier this year by state and local officials.
It’s still a dicey situation for air travel, what with COVID transmissions on the rise again after an early-summer lull. And Florida is probably not at the top of everyone’s preferred destinations at the moment, with the delta variant raging through the Sunshine State and other Southern locales.
But November is a ways off, and the situation will likely look different by then. Certainly the arrival of cold weather will have more people in Connecticut thinking about getting away to the beach.
More importantly, the chance to travel around the country directly from southern Connecticut could be a major boon for the local economy. It’s true that COVID has upended many longstanding business practices, and more people are finding that videoconferencing can take the role of business trips in many circumstances. But the need to be mobile remains, and doing it without fighting through two hours of New York traffic would be a major inducement. There’s plenty more that needs to be done for Connecticut transportation, of course. We’re the only state on the Eastern Seaboard without highway tolls, but putting those in place to help keep roads in good repair proved to be a wasted effort. Our train system is well-used, but the time it takes to get from New Haven to New York has gotten longer, not shorter, over the years. And our balkanized system of overlapping jurisdictions makes any wider regional transit strategy hard to implement. But we can view the increased options for air travel as a big win. Southern Connecticut is among the top concentrations in America for corporate headquarters, and the easy ability to shuttle people in and out will help ensure we keep that designation. Tweed is too small to compete with, say, JFK, but that’s not what we are looking for, anyway.
This week’s announcement is just the beginning, state officials say. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that they’re right.
The chance to travel around the country directly from southern Connecticut could be a major boon for the local economy.