Airport History

Formal discussions concerning the establishment of an airport in New Bedford were held in March of 1939. The proposed building of the airfield would become a WPA (Works Project Administration) project.

adminGround was broken for the New Bedford Municipal Airport on April 9, 1940. The airport was officially dedicated and approved as a commercial landing field by the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission on April 28, 1942. The airport consisted of two 3,500 ft. paved runways with lighting systems.

On November 12, 1942 upon request from the War Department the City turned the airport over to the U.S. Government to support the World War II effort for the duration of the war and for 6 months after its end. The field was occupied by the Army Air Corps which performed Atlantic Coast Patrols. At that time, the two runways were extended to 5,000 ft. in length and a hangar and several support buildings were constructed.

In April of 1944, the U.S. Navy took over control of the Airport and used it as a training post and auxiliary facility to the U.S. Air Station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

Anticipating the release of the Airport from the War Department, the City Council Committee on Ordinances, in 1946, proposed an ordinance for the creation of the Airport Commission. The Commission has the responsibility of the “care, custody, control and management” of the airport.

In August of 1950 an Administration Building was constructed along with an Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting building. Both buildings were completed in October of 1951. In 1957 Aviation history was made at the Airport when Omega Aircraft Corp. test flew the world’s first twin engine utility helicopter. In 1958, the FAA took over the Air Traffic Control, old military structures were removed and major drainage and lighting improvements were performed.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the airport continued to improve its facilities by continuous expansion of airport aprons and airport infrastructure.

In the 1980’s the airport served as a regional passenger hub with direct flights to Boston and New York. Over 50,000 passengers used the airport in one year.

In 1998 the Airport Commission received a major grant from the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission for remodeling and renovation of the Terminal Building as the airport became a convenient aerial gateway to the Cape Cod Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Currently 24,000 passengers a year use New Bedford Airport (EWB) for their travel to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Today the airport is undergoing an extensive environmental review and assessment to determine the future needs and expansion requirements to meet anticipated growth.


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