The Connecticut Airport Authority Focuses on Building the Structure for Success


The legislation creating the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) was signed into law last summer with the goal of transforming Bradley International and the state’s five general aviation airports into vibrant economic drivers for the state. The law was just the first step of many to unlocking the full potential of the state’s airports.

Since October 2011, when the CAA Board had its inaugural meeting, Board members have been diligently working to build a structure to ensure it can contribute to Connecticut’s overall economical development and growth strategy.

“As a quasi-public agency, the CAA Board has the independence and flexibility to be responsive to the airport’s stakeholders as well as economic opportunities for the airports. Our goal is to make Connecticut’s airports, especially Bradley International Airport, more attractive to passengers, cargo operators, airlines and others so that we can  bring in more flights, more routes and more businesses,” said CAA Chairwoman Mary Ellen Jones.  “We’ve been actively engaged with airlines, airport concession operators and business and community groups to achieve this objective.”

The CAA Board is working to transition responsibility for the airports from the state to the CAA and recently hired legal counsel to help navigate the complex legal agreements necessary to achieve this.  Attorneys from the selected firm, Pullman & Comley, laid out the transition plan at a Board meeting on March 15 and are now working with the Board to implement it.
The Board is also in the process of searching for and hiring a full-time Executive Director dedicated to achieving the CAA’s mission of making the airports in Connecticut key economic drivers for the state.

Another key priority for the CAA is enhancing the airports’ marketing reach so more people, businesses and communities recognize the numerous benefits of Bradley International Airport.

“I travel frequently for my job so I know a good airport when I see it,” said Jones. “Bradley International Airport is one of the good ones. It has a lot to offer – it’s centrally located and convenient to access, and it’s a nice size, making it easy to maneuver. It also has a stellar list of airlines and a growing bank of retail and food concessions.”

To bring dedicated focus to this priority, the CAA hired Dan Carstens, former publisher of The Airport News and Bradley International Cargo Guide, as a Marketing and Business Development Consultant in February.
“Dan has a lot of experience working in the airport industry and has an understanding for what the airports need, as well as the requirements of our key stakeholders,” said Mike Long, Chair of the CAA Board’s Personnel Committee. “He is already very active and well known in the airport community.”

“I have always strived to be part of the efforts to maximize Connecticut’s airports, especially Bradley,” said Carstens. “I’m honored and excited to partner with the CAA Board to bring in new businesses and flights, and help foster Connecticut’s economic development.”

Carstens will assist in expanding marketing capabilities and helping identify new routes and enhancements for Bradley International Airport and the state’s general aviation airports. This includes helping determine the feasibility of new domestic and international service. The CAA has received a lot of interest in the return of transatlantic service from Bradley International Airport, a prospect that requires the right combination of passenger volume and economic conditions to bring about.
In response to customer feedback, Bradley International Airport recently opened one new restaurant, Cask & Barrel Bistro, before the TSA security checkpoints, and two others, Traveltini and D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches, after the checkpoints.
In February, the CAA and a team at Bradley International Airport conducted a survey at the airport to solicit customer feedback. The overall results of the survey were very positive with many people highlighting the convenient size, ease of using the airport, as well as the friendliness of the staff.  Opportunities identified by the survey include passenger interest in more dining and retail options.

“We are working closely with area businesses to highlight the benefits of the state’s airports and solicit their input on travel patterns and needs, as well as suggestions on how we can better service our key customers,” said Karen Jarmoc, Chair of the CAA Board’s Outreach Committee.

Jarmoc notes that one of the key benefits of Bradley International Airport as well as the surrounding communities is the Bradley Airport Development Zone. The Bradley Development League, the MetroHartford Alliance and key state legislators championed the creation of the Bradley Airport Development Zone to help drive economic growth in the communities surrounding the airport. The zone establishes tax incentives for manufacturers and certain related businesses that build or substantially renovate facilities in the area and create new jobs. The CAA is working with the Bradley Development League to help attract new businesses to the four towns – East Granby, Suffield, Windsor and Windsor Locks – that make up the zone.

“We are so pleased with the tremendous support we are getting from many important stakeholders, including the Governor’s Office, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Treasurer’s Office, MetroHarford Alliance, and from all our important partners who work with us in the airports,” said CAA Chairwoman Jones. “Working together, we will propel Bradley Airport and the state’s general aviation airports to the next level.”

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