A renewed push to establish international flights in and out of Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma has sparked mixed reactions among Suffolk County residents, including frequent flyers that use it.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) held a news conference Monday at the airport with local officials calling on the U.S. Department of Customs, Border and Protection to develop a plan that would allow flights to and from popular vacation destinations such as Aruba and the Bahamas.
“A customs facility at Macarthur could be a magnet for new carriers, helping the airport regain some of its lost flights and giving Long Islanders direct access to some of the most popular tourist destinations,” said Schumer.
He hopes such service would reverse the 46.4 percent loss of commercial flights at LIMA from 2007 through last year, he said.
International airlines like Interjet and FlyA have inquired about establishing routes at MacArthur, but airstrips would have to be lengthened and space would be needed for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to enforce regulations designed to stop the introduction of exotic or foreign plants, animal pests and diseases, according to Schumer.
“This airport wasn’t meant to be heavily populated,” said Christina Monteleone, a Commack resident who regularly flies out of MacArthur. “Some of us live out here to escape the overpopulation. We already have JFK and LaGuardia.”
Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci has begun to develop a plan in the event that it gets approval to add carriers in addition to Southwest Airlines, U.S. Airways shuttle service to Washington, D.C. and Pen Air flights to Boston.
“The addition of this customs and agriculture inspection capability brings our residents exactly what they have been asking for….more direct flights from the hassle free airport down the road,” he said.
James Owsinski, a Kings Park resident, believes that international flights the airport would be both convenient and help the economy.
“More planes coming in here would boost the economy,” he said. “Quite frankly, it would be easier for people who want to travel but don’t want to drive to JFK from the Hamptons just to get on a plane.”