With federal grant requirements set to expire, the Town Board of East Hampton, New York, has the opportunity to determine the fate of East Hampton Airport.
Local pilots and aviation businesses have long rallied to prevent the closure of the historic and valued airport, which has served the eastern end of Long Island for more than eight decades. Earlier this year, the Long Island daily newspaper Newsday reported that a study from East Hampton Community Alliance found that the airport generates $77 million for the local economy, and supports 800 jobs.
“This airport is a valuable asset and economic engine for the East Hampton community,” said Kent Feuerring, a member of AOPA’s Airport Support Network and president of the East Hampton Aviation Association. “Our community leaders understand this, most local residents understand this, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Town Board to keep this airport working for pilots and the community of East Hampton.”
Sean Collins, AOPA Eastern regional manager, added, “We will continue to work with the Town Board. It certainly understands the importance and value of this iconic airport. It has operated as an essential link and economic driver for the local community for decades.”
Besides serving recreational and commuting pilots, East Hampton Airport provides vital emergency services and lifesaving medevac services to the local community. The airport also serves as a critical staging area for distributing emergency medical and food supplies during natural disasters and catastrophic events throughout the United States and Caribbean.
The airport also provides important science, technology, engineering, and math educational and career opportunities for local youth. In addition, several East Hampton pilots participate in Angel Flights, which provide free air transportation for passengers in need of medical treatment far from home.
Some local residents have objected to noise arising from the airport, mainly from Sikorsky S–92s and other helicopters that shuttle between eastern Long Island and Manhattan during the summer season. Pilot groups, supported by AOPA, have worked to reduce the major sources of noise by creating and promoting adherence to overwater flight routes through the area.
While the timeline of any decision by the East Hampton Town Board is still not clear, the local aviation community is confident that the airport has more than proven its value to the region.
"EHCA has commissioned economic, environmental and diversion reports demonstrating the importance of the East Hampton Airport to the community,” said Erin King Sweeney, EHCA executive director. “We are hopeful that the East Hampton Town Board and users of the airport can work together to develop a solution to keep HTO open for generations to come."