New Bedford airport given all-clear to accommodate larger aircraft

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Travelers in Southern New England may soon have another option when it comes to flying.

For more than two decades, New Bedford Regional Airport has been limited to small planes with nine seats or less.

On Wednesday, the airport received federal certification needed to go back to serving flights with up to 31 seats. For the first time since the 1990’s, larger planes can now land and connect top major hub airports from the Whaling City.

“We can now recruit carriers that can use this airport to take people straight from New Bedford to places like New York and beyond,” New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said Wednesday.

“I think a lot of airlines are going to take notice, like the landing fees are less here than they would be in Providence or Logan Airport, fuel is less here than the other places, so we have a lot to offer,” added Paul Barton, chairman of the New Bedford Regional Airport Commission.

One commercial airline has already signed a letter of intent to start running flights in the near future, the New Bedford Standard-Times reports.

Of the more than 200 airports in New England, less than two dozen hold the necessary certification to accommodate larger planes.

Officials said the next step to expand flight service in New Bedford is to receive Transportation Security Administration (TSA) certification, which would allow it to add TSA screening equipment.

New Bedford Regional Airport was approved to accept international flights last August.