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Radical Plan Delayed: Court Temporarily Halts East Hampton Airport Closure

The town’s plan is highly unusual and forces aviation to confront equally unusual questions about our use of public aviation facilities

Court Temporarily Halts East Hampton Airport Closure
East Hampton Airport. Image courtesy of Google Earth

Pilots and operators watching the battle for control of the East Hampton Airport (current code: KHTO but potentially KJPX in the future) will be interested to learn that the New York State Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the town that prevents it from closing the airport this week. The town says that it plans to reopen it as a taxpayer-funded, private-use facility down the road. It’s an unusual plan to propose an airport that all taxpayers contribute to but which permits a small percentage of them to use it.

The town’s radical plan to convert a popular publicly owned, public-use airport into a publicly owned, private-use airport hasn’t been well received by aviation and business advocates, largely for concerns about the precedent it may set and potential impacts to the U.S. aviation infrastructure, which is a globally unique asset. The NBAA has issued several communications to help the public keep up with the legal battle for the airport, as it and other stakeholders have joined to challenge the airport’s closure.

As part of its plan, the town will forgo any federal funding support for the airport in order, presumably, to avoid the kind of federal obligations that kept Santa Monica Airport from closing altogether.

But because of that, East Hampton’s publicly funded instrument approaches—they don’t build or maintain themselves—will be officially deactivated and deleted. Pilots are being warned against flying the “old” approaches after the airport goes private.

Pilots and operators on the email list from Sound Aviation Services, the official management entity for the airport, have received numerous communications in the past few months with updated airport information, including the new airport identifier, instructions to apply for the town’s approval to use the airport and instructions to request the replacement (i.e.- non-public) instrument approaches.

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