Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling allowing the expansion of Tweed New Haven Airport's main runway.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in July that the state statute regulating the length of the runway is preempted by federal aviation law, overturning a 2017 district court ruling.

Tweed New Haven Airport
Tweed New Haven Airport's main runway is one of the shortest commercial runways in the country.

The decade-old state law restricts Tweed's runways to 5,600 feet in length—less than federal aviation safety laws allow.

Officials want to expand the main runway to 7,200 feet on airport property.

Tong petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to address what he described as two issues of legal significance to the state. 

"First, whether a political subdivision of a state has standing to sue its creator state, and second, whether the Federal Aviation Act preempts state law in determining the length of a local airport runway," Tong said Dec. 9.

"We believe both these issues are of national, state, and local significance and merit Supreme Court review."


Tong's decision puts the Democrat at odds with Gov. Ned Lamont and other Democratic officials, including outgoing New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

"The state's decision in this case is disappointing and the latest obstacle to delay promising prospects for economic growth and greater passenger convenience that runway improvements would yield," Harp told the Hartford Business Journal.

"The state should instead embrace Tweed—already the region's only commercially licensed airport—with its wholesale advantages for business development and the likelihood of dramatic highway congestion relief."

"The state's decision in this case is disappointing and the latest obstacle to delay promising prospects for economic growth."

Outgoing New Haven Mayor Toni Harp

State Rep. Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford), the airport's executive director, said he was "disappointed" with Tong's decision to appeal the July ruling.

"We look forward to a prompt resolution of the case in the Supreme Court so that we can proceed with our plans to extend the length of our runway and foster the tremendous economic growth that will come from a more vibrant airport in southern Connecticut," Scanlon said.

After the July decision, Lamont said he believed Tong should not pursue an appeal, calling the runway expansion important to the state's economy.

State Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven) and Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven), whose districts include the airport and surrounding neighborhoods, did call for Tong to appeal the July ruling.