WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – There’s a new effort to reexamine the future of Westchester County Airport, and its impact on everything from the quality of life in the northern suburbs to the water supply in New York City.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports on the difficult issues that must be balanced.
As the pandemic eases, air traffic is taking off at Westchester County Airport, defying expectations that it would be 2025 before passenger volume returned.
“That pickup started in summer, fall 2021, and it has not let up,” said Westchester County Director of Operations Joan McDonald.
The Latimer administration says it’s the perfect time to update the airport master plan, a top to bottom look at the 100th busiest airport in the country that spans 700 acres with 1,400 employees, and commercial flights to an ever growing list of destinations.
“This airport’s great. Can’t beat it. Who wants to go into the city?” said traveler Kelvin Benett.
Not everyone shares Benett’s view.
The airport was basically in the wilderness when it opened in the 1940s. Now residents in neighborhoods built near the airport complain relentlessly about aircraft noise, while environmentalists fret about de-icing and other runoff into the nearby Kensico Reservoir – water for millions in New York City.
“We have been fully committed to the environmental correction of any problems there,” County Executive George Latimer said.
Latimer urges public input at a series of meetings to be held in the weeks ahead.
Planning for the future of the Westchester County Airport will be closely watched in neighboring Greenwich, Connecticut. The airport sits directly on the state line.
“This process intends to be open and inclusive. We know that people have strong feelings about the airport on both sides,” Latimer said.
Corporate aviation accounts for 55% of traffic at Westchester County Airport, but demand for commercial flights is strong.
Westchester is preparing for the arrival of Breeze Airways in June, just as the master planning process gets underway. Breeze Airways is run by a founder of JetBlue, and will offer flights from Westchester to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and five other cities.