May 18, 2021
A temporary restraining order (TRO) granted this week by the Supreme Court of the State of New York for Suffolk County has paused the planned closure of the embattled East Hampton Airport (HTO), and its controversial reopening as a private-use facility.
At the same time, the judge overseeing a separate federal case filed by NBAA at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York opted to delay ruling on the matter while the state court TRO is in place.
East Hampton officials had planned to close the airport at 11:59 pm (EDT) on May 17 and reopen the facility 33 hours later with multiple new restrictions in place, including a prior permission required program, increased landing fees, operating curfews, bans on aircraft weighing over 50,000 lbs. and aircraft deemed “noisy,” and trip limits on Part 135 and 91(k) operations.
In a motion filed in federal court May 14, NBAA and other claimants asserted the scheme violated the permanent injunction issued by the court following a 2015 attempt by the town to impose similar restrictions in direct contradiction to the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA). A separate motion called on the court to newly enjoin any attempt by the town to circumvent ANCA and close the airport or impose restrictions.
Earlier this week, in a separate consolidated motion brought against the town by several airport stakeholders, New York Supreme Court Justice Paul Baisley, Jr. granted the TRO, halting any actions affecting the airport’s status. Following the ruling in state court, U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert heard the arguments in NBAA’s case and elected to reserve action on the federal TRO while that state court TRO is in effect. She further asked the attorneys for the town to alert her should there be a status change to the TRO while she decides the case.
“We are pleased that East Hampton’s airport remains open as a public-use facility for all general aviation; the TRO not only requires the airport to remain open, but also the suspension of the onerous restrictions and increased landing fees,” said Alex Gertsen, CAM, NBAA director of airports and ground infrastructure.
However, Gertsen cautioned that the planned deactivation of HTO, its associated instrument approach procedures and removal of all references in the FAA and navigation provider databases, has already been set into motion and cannot be stopped, according to the FAA. Changeover to East Hampton Town Airport (JPX) is incorporated into the FAA’s latest chart cycle effective May 19.
“Starting at midnight on May 19, operators will need to use the new identifier JPX for flight plan filing and navigation,” explained Gertsen. “Users will also, at least for now, need to file an application and go through a lengthy approval process to obtain the ability to use special instrument approach procedures that were privately developed for JPX.”
Learn more about the application process.
“NBAA encourages pilots and operators to check the town’s guidance and NOTAMs for the latest developments, and to consult the airport website for details,” he said.