New Jersey Governor Seeks To Block Indigo Service to Teterboro

 - January 18, 2008, 5:34 AM

Indigo chairman and CEO Peter Pappas made it clear last month that actions by New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey to block service by Indigo to Teterboro Airport had no legal basis for justification. “We’re bringing a service into an area where it is very much needed, and he [McGreevey] and others are doing nothing more than using a non-issue as a platform to enhance their positions with their constituents,” said Pappas.

The Indigo boss was responding to an announcement by McGreevey’s office on March 1 that he was directing the state attorney general’s office to provide support and resources to block Indigo’s service to Teterboro. Pappas’ comments came on March 3, the day of Indigo’s relaunch of its “regular and frequent” flights between Chicago’s Midway Airport and Teterboro, just 30 minutes from downtown New York City.

“If Indigo were permitted to initiate scheduled service at Teterboro, it would adversely affect the quality of life for residents near the airport,” McGreevey was quoted in The Record newspaper serving Bergen County. McGreevey also said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Sarlo and Bergen County executive Dennis McNerney were also prepared to “fight Indigo at every turn to block the airline from circumventing the ban.”

The reality, said Pappas in response, “Is that we are not a scheduled airline service, and therefore any ban on regular scheduled service does not apply to us.”

Indigo does publish a flight “timetable,” which must be filed with the DOT as required under Part 380. However, Indigo is not obligated to meet that timetable for departures and arrivals. If there are no passengers for a particular departure, the flight is simply canceled. Or the departure time might be changed to meet passenger demand. Part 380 does require that money accepted for a flight remain in escrow until each passenger has completed the flight. The DOT, said Pappas, authorizes this type of service as a “competitive vehicle” to the scheduled service offered by airlines under FAR Part 121.

As for the quality of life in communities surrounding Teterboro Airport, Pappas noted that the Legacy Shuttle, a passenger shuttle version of the Brazilian Embraer ERJ-135 regional jet, meets proposed Stage 4 noise standards “and is probably the quietest airplane at Teterboro.”

Even TSA has gotten into the act. According to Pappas, the Transportation Security Administration had representatives at both Midway and Teterboro for the initial flight to observe Indigo’s security measures. “It went very well,” said Pappas.

That apparently wasn’t good enough for Rothman, who has consistently fought for his constituents to reduce the impact of Teterboro Airport on the community. On March 6, at the insistence of Rothman, the TSA sent another team to Teterboro.
“[Indigo does not] live up to the same stringent security measures and practices that are required at the major airports,” Rothman told The Record.

Pappas emphatically denies Rothman’s allegation, saying, “If anything, we represent a significantly lower security risk than just about any other segment of aviation. We’re flattered by all the attention, but it’s not the kind of attention we wanted, and it’s totally unwarranted.”