Update: As we reported last week, it looks as though aviation might lose New York’s Long Island East Hampton general aviation airport (KHTO, now KJPX) permanently due to the pushback from the town as a direct result of interested parties filing lawsuits to prevent the town from converting the airport to a private use facility.
The reason, at least according to the town, is that aircraft owners, trade groups, and aviation businesses joined, who joined forces filing last-minute lawsuits to prevent the closure of KHTO as a public-use airport, might have convinced the city that keeping the airport open in any way could turn into a litigation nightmare.
The town’s original plan was to shutter the airport very temporarily and then re-open it as a private use facility. As a private-use airport, with a new identifier (KJPX), there would have been new conditions and rules implemented, thereby limiting the types of operations centered around aircraft type and time of day, among other considerations.
According to reports, William O’Connor, a partner with Cooley LLP, the consulting law firm for East Hampton, indicated that due to several coordinated lawsuits, the town was forced to consider the extreme move of closing the airport permanently.
The town has asked its counsel to begin the process of legally pursuing the permanent closure of the airport.
Some industry observers believe that East Hampton’s change of course is designed to get opponents of the new plan to drop their suits. The threat of closing a popular if problematic GA airport, is daunting, for sure. The town insists, however, that it is serious about its move to permanently close the facility.
If the town is successful in obtaining the ruling to permanently close the airport, O’Connor did leave the door open on a possible reopening at some time in the future “under commonsense regulations.”
Until the legal process of closing the airport winds thru the courts, the airport remains open as a public-use airport, without any restrictions or increased landing fees. How and when that might change remains an open question.