avelo airlines

Expansion Debate: Tweed's Runway Impacts How Many Passengers Avelo Plane Can Carry

The public can now weigh in on the controversial proposed expansion after Tweed-New Haven Airport’s environmental assessment was released this week.

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Tweed-New Haven Airport released its environmental assessment draft this week, as it looks to expand its operations.

The proposed changes include lengthening the runway, building a new terminal and airport entrance.

The draft says extending the runway and relocating the terminal would reduce overall noise and the changes would not significantly impact traffic in the area.

In a press release, a spokesperson writes that “the EA makes clear that the planned project would improve the airport’s future environmental impact.”

Opponents are against the expansion for a variety of reasons, from loud noise to environmental concerns.

You can read the assessment here.

There is a public comment period from now through April 16.

The Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority will also host a public information workshop and hearing on April 1 at East Haven High School.

The assessment is long, but it’s an important part of a contentious battle between community members who are for and against the expansion.

NBC CT Responds has been digging through the assessment, and what the team learned from some letters in it could be of interest to current travelers.

Avelo Traveler Impact

Earlier this week, Jim Olson, the head of communications for Avelo Airlines, spoke with NBC CT Responds about improving communications with passengers after our report aired, highlighting some travelers’ frustrations with their customer service response.

We asked Olson about problems we heard from some passengers like Sunny Nariyani.

When he arrived at a Florida airport around the new year for his flight to Tweed, he wondered, “I’m like, ‘Why is everybody freaking out?’ So I found out, they don’t have enough…seats on the plane, I guess they have like 35 less seats.”

Nariyani says when he eventually boarded that day, seats remained empty without passengers. We asked Olsen about this.

He says while the airline does not overbook, “that said, anyone, any viewers who are pilots out there know that weather conditions, the heat, you know, the temperature outside, and various factors, the weight of the output aircraft is very important. So, we don't know, when customers are booking a trip, we don't know what that weather is going to be three months or four months or five months out.”

While Olsen tells us this only happens in unique situations, we’re now learning in a December 2021 letter to the airport, which was released in the environmental assessment, that Tweed’s short runway “allows Avelo to carry full loads to and from Florida destinations only when the conditions are ‘good,’” writes Avelo’s then vice president of flight operations, referring to the smallest plane the airline flies at this airport.

He continues that wet or even hot weather conditions can mean some passengers may not be able to get to their destination.

“If there are weather conditions that drive the condition of the runway to be wet, contaminated or even hot temperatures; the B737-700 takes significant penalties on passengers in seats,” Olsen wrote.

In that letter, the then VP says, “Operating an airline at HVN only in ‘good weather’ is not a sustainable business plan.”

Olsen told us that part of Avelo’s partnership with Tweed is the commitment that the runway be extended.

He says this will enable their planes to carry more fuel which in turn will enable them to fly longer distances to popular destinations and carry more customers on their planes.

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