Effort to Close Brainard Airport Overlooks Aviation Jobs and Training

Hartford Brainard Airport (Credit: Google Map Data, 2023)


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To the Editor:

A second study in seven years regarding Hartford’s Brainard airport has been released, stating that the airport should be kept as an airport. These studies have cost the taxpayers $3 million and have created doubt for potential investors in this valuable State asset.

Articles covering this study have appeared elsewhere, without critical facts in this politically driven effort to close an airport.  The wheels of commerce in Connecticut require the high-tech job skills created by all aspects of the aviation industry.  A few facts are in order.

Fact:  Connecticut needs to keep and create well-paying jobs. 

Brainard Airport and the businesses on-site employ an estimated 250 to 300 in high-tech jobs, with a payroll of nearly $70M.  Closure of the airfield would cause a loss of those jobs and payroll taxes, plus business and sales taxes paid to the city and state.  The state can’t afford to shut down high tech, aviation industry jobs since the state’s major economy drivers are aviation related.

State Senator John Fonfara and Mayor Luke Bronin have been quoted regarding “redevelopment possibilities in 5 to 10 years”, after closure, without acknowledging that the airport offers similar longer term development opportunities to train pilots and technicians for current and future demands.  Speculative real estate developments face massive unknowns, particularly when Hartford downtown office and retail space sectors are already suffering large vacancies. 

Wouldn’t it be better if Connecticut worked on baseline conditions conducive to creating jobs rather than mandating top-down, government driven solutions that require killing jobs? Perhaps if elected officials would stop threatening the future of the airfield, investors would be more likely to participate.

Fact:  The southwest portion of the airfield contains an active waste water treatment plant creating negative aesthetic and logistics issues for the “redevelopment” that politicians propose.

Fact:  Proposed closure of the smaller runway (11~29) removes an ideal opportunity for primary and recurrent pilot training for take-offs and landings on shorter runways.

The article talks about warehouses to be located where this runway exists.  Warehouses are certainly vital contributions to our modern supply chain.  However, to suggest that warehouses will replace the numbers and quality of jobs provided by a fully functioning airport is absurd.

I encourage the Governor, who supports small businesses as the engine of the state’s economy to lead this important public policy debate.  He needs to make it known that he favors keeping good jobs by keeping Brainard Airport open with both runways, and by supporting revitalization and expansion opportunities for the future of the capital city and the state of Connecticut.

Robert Ham
Cheshire, CT