FAA Raises Doubts Over Changing East Hampton Airport to Private Use

Town board voted to close the airport and reopen with rules to cut noise.

Under the FAA’s recommended timeline, the airport would close on February 28 and reopen as a private-use facility on March 4. [Friends of the East Hampton Airport/Facebook]

An FAA letter to the town board of East Hampton, N.Y., could complicate plans to close the East Hampton Airport (KHTO) later this month and reopen it shortly afterward as a private-use airport that would require aircraft to get permission before landing there.

The board voted late last month to move ahead with the plan, but in its letter sent February 2, the FAA said it “may take approximately two years to restore the current capability to the airport if it is deactivated,” in part because of environmental analysis that would take place. 

East Hampton has long been a summertime hub for vacationers on the bustling East End of New York’s Long Island. Many people shuttle from Manhattan on helicopters, often using aviation rideshare services while others arrive by private jet. After years of increasing complaints, local officials are seeking to change the airport’s rules in order to reduce aircraft noise.

FAA grant assurances, which give airports access to federal funds while requiring them to continue operating, expired last September, giving East Hampton a number of options that included restricting airport operations, switching to private use, or even permanently closing the airport.

Under its current plan, the town would close the airport on February 28 and reopen it on March 4.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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