June 29, 2015

Citing the “irreparable harm” that an access restriction at New York’s East Hampton Airport (HTO) would have on aviation businesses and operators, a U.S. District Court judge has issued a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of a town law that places a one-trip per week operational limit on certain aircraft during the summer months.

Judge Joanna Seybert’s decision on June 26 came in response to a request for an injunction by Friends of East Hampton Airport – a coalition of airport businesses and aviation interests – which was joined by NBAA. The federal court complaint challenges the legality of the HTO weekly access restriction, as well as a mandatory nighttime curfew for all aircraft and an extended curfew on so-called “noisy” aircraft also enacted the by town of East Hampton.

The one-trip per week limit the town adopted for “noisy” aircraft during the months of May through September, if allowed to enter into effect, would result in “substantial business losses, major operational disruptions, and losses of good will that could be difficult to quantify,” wrote Judge Seybert in her decision.

NBAA Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown expressed disappointment that the District Court judge did not also preliminarily enjoin the mandatory curfew – adopted by the town on all aircraft between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. – or the extended curfew on “noisy” aircraft between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 a.m.

“While NBAA is encouraged that Judge Seybert acknowledges that the one-trip limit will have a ‘drastic impact’ on aviation businesses operating at East Hampton, we will continue to oppose all of the noise and access restrictions at HTO that are unfair and unreasonable,” said Brown. “As a public-use airport receiving federal funds, East Hampton is bound by grant assurances and other regulations and requirements that obligate it to operate within compliance with federal aviation law and policy.”

Brown noted that Judge Seybert’s decision is not the end of the case, as well as that a separate formal complaint regarding HTO filed by NBAA last month with the FAA is not affected by the District Court ruling. NBAA will continue to pursue that course of action as well as other legal and regulatory remedies, added Brown.

The NBAA complaint, which was submitted pursuant to Part 16 of the FAA’s regulations, requests that the agency issue an immediate cease-and-desist order regarding the East Hampton airport restrictions and take corrective action as necessary – including the withholding of federal transportation funds from the town. NBAA maintains that the resolutions adopted by the town are incompatible with the federal grants that the town has received for the airport, which incorporate assurances that prohibit East Hampton from providing “exclusive rights” to any category of airport user.

“NBAA and its Members – a number of whom will be directly impacted by the restrictions at East Hampton – will continue to explore all options to ensure that general aviation operators have safe and reliable access to HTO,” said Brown. “East Hampton Airport is part of a national system of airports, and operational restrictions like those the town plans to impose as early as this week present a threat to the national air transportation system.”