According to Jim Brundige, the airport manager, there were nearly 5,000 fewer “operations” – that is, take-offs and landings – from January to July this year, compared to the same period in 2021.
Told that 2022 cumulative air traffic at East Hampton Airport was down about 28% through July, members of Wainscott’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee found themselves Saturday asking, “Really?
According to information provided to East Hampton Town and the committee by Jim Brundige, the airport manager, there were almost 5,000 fewer “operations” – that is, take-offs and landings – from January to July this year, compared to the same period in 2021.
“It seems to me that as a layman I hear more…. . It just doesn’t seem to fit,” said Barry Frankel, a longtime committee member who led the meeting in the absence of Carolyn Logan Gluck, its chair.
East Hampton Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, the city council’s liaison to the committee, said on Tuesday she had asked Mr. Brundige to review the numbers and report back.
“These are probably very good numbers,” Ms Overby said. “There could be movement. We don’t count them; we have a company that counts them as they come in. But I know, for the CAC in Wainscott, it’ll feel like there’s more operations [flying] on them – because there are. There are simply no more operations, in total, at the airport.
She explained that the difference in the numbers since the beginning of 2022 occurred mainly during the slower months of January and February. She also noted that “routes have changed. [They] now descend the ocean access and cross Georgica Pond.
Of the 2022 figures, 3,242 operations involved local pilots; 9,520 were from transient users. Of the aircraft types entering and leaving the airport so far this year, helicopters have accounted for about 31%, jets about 20% and seaplanes about 9%.
The Wainscott CAC was also told that the town had received numerous complaints about planes with banner ads. These planes are banned from Delta-class airspace, which covers the beaches of East Hampton Village, Wainscott and Sagaponack, Frankel said, and the control tower will enforce the ban.
In other airport-related news, the Federal Aviation Administration announced on July 29 that the North Coast Helicopter Route, which requires civilian pilots to follow a path along the North Shore of Long Island, has been renewed. It was due to expire on August 5.
“The FAA deems it necessary to extend the four-year rule,” through July 29, 2026, the agency said. The report acknowledges the ongoing litigation over the future of East Hampton Airport, stating: “given that there is no timeline available for the resolution of the airport’s operational status East Hampton Town and subsequent adjustments operators may make, the FAA expects a four-year extension to provide [it] enough time for these issues to be resolved to evaluate any new traffic redirection and take this evaluation into account when evaluating the current rule.
The complex status of the city’s possible airport closure — and its supporters’ counter-efforts to keep it open — is tied to litigation in the New York State Supreme Court system, before the Judge Paul J. Baisley. As of this week’s press, the court’s online case tracking system did not indicate when the parties were due to meet next.