The latest developments at Long Island MacArthur Airport

1. Declining numbers:

The Long Island MacArthur Airport, owned by the city of Islip, has been in a vicious circle since its inception. The airlines have been reluctant to offer flights because of the shortage of passengers while the passengers were reluctant to use the airport because the airlines did not provide the service they wanted. Over the past half decade, this phenomenon has practically nullified its existence.

Although 1.8 million passengers in the eastern Nassau and Suffolk county catch an average of 3.7 annual trips, these favorable facts end here, as only 25 percent of them use MacArthur for their travels. This statistic will increase to 50 percent if only nonstop services are considered.

During the five-year period from 2007 to 2012, the number of annual departures decreased from 14,784 to 7,930. This is the strongest reduction of all mid-sized US airfields. As a result, the Long Island site was virtually attributed to the status of 1999, the year of Southwest Airlines, which triggered the latest growth cycle.

In addition to being victim to the recession and fuel costs like these other terminals, in the past it was forced to operate in the shadow of the three major New York airports, relying almost entirely on the same market for a single carrier. Southwest, for his service. The growing trend towards airline consolidation has also meant that fewer potential airline service providers have operated almost all from the airport in the past, while current fuel prices made the operation of their code-share regional jets unprofitable, which led to the airlines' withdrawal – which was vital Turntable supplies delivered, such as Atlantic Southeast (ASA) to Atlanta, Comair to Cincinnati and Continental Express to Cleveland.

To deviate from the philosophy of being underserved, operating over-priced secondary airports on which the company was founded, and responding to passenger demand for market presence, Southwest has gradually phased aircraft assets from smaller to larger cities to maximize revenue but it has been mined. Much of the Islip market it created itself was cultivated.

Southwest pointed out that this strategy reflected system-wide changes in the industry rather than just MacArthur.

However, the Long Island market includes factors that go beyond system-wide industry trends. Encouraged by the additional slots that La Guardia Airport had received following the acquisition of AirTran, Southwest itself increased the frequencies and destinations of the airport with higher yield and higher utilization factor.

After 34 daily departures from Long Island, the presence was gradually reduced and flight operations on two of its capitals, namely Nashville and Las Vegas, set. As a result, the air connections they represented were lifted.

When the Chicago Midway service was discontinued in June 2012 and relocated to La Guardiia, the number of flights to 18 had almost halved.

While he was credited with reviving the airport, he had become an obstacle to growth in many ways. Due to its dominance and low price structure, it served as a deterrent to other airlines considering flights there, especially on routes such as Florida, where it holds a monopoly. However, as if on a tightrope walk, Islip City officials have always made considerable efforts to maintain a close relationship with the airline, as the airport's future depends on it.

However, this future does not just depend on the number of passengers and passengers. It also depends on the financial – and these were anything but optimistic. For example, during the three-year period from 2010 to 2012, the airport lost nearly $ 4.2 million and had to spend $ 11 million on the sale of land on Long Island Rail Road in 2009 to offset the deficit as well as attracting companies to lease store fronts in the terminal; to levy a general aviation landing fee for the first time; and reduce the number of employees and overtime.

What is needed, however, are more far-reaching strategies to turn the tide. Is there any according to the prevailing conditions?

2. Infrastructure improvements and suggestions:

Long Island MacArthur Airport as the region's economic engine can only continue to operate if the city of Islip is looking for innovative ways to win over the airline that operates it and has therefore made a number of infrastructure improvements.

On the land side, a US $ 10.6 million terminal lane reorientation was initiated and started in September 2011 to divert and streamline vehicle traffic. These included the introduction of an island with a building front and a 750-foot canopy to facilitate the delivery of passengers and pick-ups from private and public transport. The project also included lighting, drainage and a safety checkpoint for vehicles.

Financed by passenger fees collected through ticket sales, it was completed two years later, Jan. 10, with a budget of $ 300,000.

Another land project took place on the west side of the airport along Smithtown Avenue. The demolition of 52,000 square meters of outdated and unsightly wood, steel and concrete block structures was designed to attract businesses and operators who are deterred by the existing plague.

Of its three fixed-line operators, Sheltair agreed to invest $ 20 million over a seven-year period in a 40-year lease for 25 of its 36 hectares, paving the way for the construction of 29,000 square feet of office space and 161,000 square feet of office space Hangar room.

ExcelAire also signed a 40-year lease to provide $ 4.5 million for the modernization of its facilities. Hawthorne Global Aviation, based in Charleston, South Carolina, has recently demolished a neighboring building and plans to expand the office and hangar area by 32,000 square meters to accommodate the new generation of ultra-large business aircraft B. the Bombardier Global Express , the Gulfstream 650 and the Falcon 7X.

Within the airport, Mid-Island Air Service followed with its own lease and refurbishment agreement.

The reorientation of the roadway on land was a reconfiguration of the runway in the airspace. A $ 4.5 million subsidy to the airport, of which 95 percent came from the FAA and the other five percent from the Department of Transportation of the state and city, facilitated the rationalization of aircraft taxiing onto Runway 33L. and reduced turns, times and fuel consumption. The project included the extension of Taxiway B, the redesign of Taxiway E and the installation of airport signs, lights and lane markings.

Rosemar Contracting of Patchogue (runway construction), JKL Engineering of Maryland (runway design) and Savik and Murray of Ronkonkoma (removal of runway obstacles and equipment) were awarded a contract.

Other projects that resulted from the airport's short-, medium-, and long-term master plans included a light rail that connected the terminal to Long Island Rail Road Station, and the extension to 7,000 feet per second runway to the airport Increase the security of existing operations and attract new operations with greater reach.

It has even been proposed to turn the airport into an international gateway. MacArthur's longtime advocate Charles Schumer launched a public campaign to that end on June 10, 2013, calling on US Customs and Border Protection agencies to set up a one-gate facility for airlines to operate flights to the Bahamas and Aruba , often requested destinations with sun and sand.

The campaign, fueled by the expressions of interest sent by Interjet, a low-cost Mexican airline, and FlyA, a low-cost but only proposed European long-distance operator, could significantly expand the airport's operating environment.

Although a Department of Homeland Security regularly reviewed the need for such requests, its own resources were already very tight, and it was unlikely that they would be potential, not really needed, facilities that could be used immediately at the adequately equipped New York airports These flights were available without infrastructure changes.

These ambitious proposals led to a separate Catch-22 situation, much like the airport's fiendish passenger cycle. While they might have been able to win new airlines and routes, it was virtually impossible to justify their costs if the decline in traffic barely required the existing ones.

3. Airlines:

Although these infrastructure upgrades and promising proposals may have improved airline operating experience, it was ultimately the city's ability to attract the airlines that would pump the lifeblood into the Long Island regional airport. Several significant efforts have therefore been made to do so.

A. Existing airlines:

It was unlikely that the aircraft, after being repositioned at La Guardia airport in the southwestern United States, whose recent presence was only a shadow of the highest, would increase frequencies or service new destinations under prevailing economic conditions.

Nevertheless, it emphasized its continued commitment to the regional airfield. A provision in his 25-year contract could theoretically have allowed him to cease all services after a decade, but had no plans for doing so.

On the contrary, despite significant savings, 68 percent of the workload experienced two years ago was gradually increased to 92 due to its service cost reduction strategy. And although the simultaneous presence of La Guardia and MacArthur seemed to dilute the same market, their respective business and leisure outlooks dispelled that perception.

However, the city of Islip was successful in negotiating a new service with another existing airline, US Airways.

As the original tenant of MacArthur – and thus the longest serving of his time – Allegheny, who was later renamed USAir, forced the cancellation of his original service after the flight restrictions imposed by the 2001 terrorist attacks. The route itself, the second to Philadelphia, was facilitated by a slot exchange with Delta at La Guardia.

To commemorate the first of two daily 50-passenger CRJ-200 regional jets operated by Air Wisconsin on March 25, 2012, the airport's fire trucks christened it with a water curtain after 12:50. Landing.

According to NewstagTom Croci, head of the city of Islip, said, "I look forward to working with our senators and congressmen to ensure that the jewel of our city, Long Island MacArthur Airport, receives the resources and attention that are needed to exploit its full potential. "

The plane, which makes the vital inner-city connection to the country's capital and makes the one-hour train journey from Southwest's equivalent Baltimore service obsolete, was again separated at 13:28.

Senator Charles Schumer commented that the new connection only confirms that Long Island is an untapped market. Although US Airways carried only between six and seven percent of its traffic, it was considered disproportionately important due to the business and hub orientation of its routes.

B. New airlines:

Moving existing airlines to the opening of the service was just one side of the city's strategy. The other was to attract new ones, and to that end, the Long Island Association, the largest corporate and civic organization, expressed interest in a possible service by sending a letter to three airlines: the aforementioned US Airways and JetBlue and Air Canada.

Although the southwest effect of stimulating demand and expansion at airports for which MacArthur was originally responsible has left its mark for most of the last decade, its reduction has reversed this trend, and JetBlue, a similar, low-cost, low-cost, low-cost airliner Bells and whistles were thought to have the same positive influence.

Having flooded the New York area with presence in New York City's three major airports and the two secondary airports, White Plains & # 39; Westchester County and Newburghs Stewart International, Islip was one of three new destinations to be served recently.

Schumer, a major contributor to his original New York service in the late 1990s, and equipped with 75 slots for realistic upstate routes, considered the Long Island airfield JetBlue's "missing piece of the puzzle". Together with the former city councilor of Islip, Phil Nolan, he emphasized his support in working with the airline and the state and local authorities to conclude a deal.

Dave Barger, CEO of JetBlue, was personally accompanied by Schumer and received a three-hour visit to the airport, an integral part of the airline's evaluation process. Schumer passed about 30 departing passengers, introduced him, and signaled that he wanted to persuade him to open the service, and called for spontaneous applause.

Due to the 2.9 million inhabitants of the districts of Nassau and Suffolk, Barger considered the region a "decent city". As the Caribbean was the intended growth area of ​​the airline, he felt the Caribbean and Latin American population structure of the airport as favorable.

While JetBlue reflected its southwestern competitors in many ways, it has become a likeness, at least with the Long Island facility. The company won an auction for eight slots at La Guardia airport and instead committed its New York flight capacity.

Despite the seemingly disappointing result, Barger emphasized that the optimal conditions are not about whether, but rather when, the service will be provided to Islip.

Another city-served airline that had already been interested in Islip was Air Canada.

Market surveys revealed that 58 percent of passengers in the airport's catchment area had reason to fly to Canada, while more than 30 commercial areas occupying 4,200 hectares within the control of the city of Islip further reinforced the need for such a route. In 2011, the mutual trade of the State of New York amounted to 34.8 billion US dollars.

In particular, a connection to Toronto was considered a win-win strategy. As the airline's 60th cross-border connection, it would be able to afford congested airport and airspace operations, thereby minimizing fuel costs and delays while allowing passengers access to its main hub, thereby facilitating Canadian, European and Asian air connections. As there were already pre-checks on immigration and customs in Canada, MacArthur did not require any changes.

But the dominance of La Guardia has once again reduced it to a footnote. Since WestJet, its strongest competitor, had just received eight slots at New York Airport, it was wiser to focus its assets there to hold its market share than to relocate it to Long Island.

Alaska's PenAir, the penultimate airline with which the city explored new services, was bearing more fruit.

The FAA's Air Carrier Incentive Plan, which included reduced fees for newcomers or the creation of new routes, has helped save $ 120,000 in office, rental, operating and property costs, or a two-year equivalent. if this plan was continued the service for two years thereafter.

PenAir replaced the multi-day Business Express and subsequent American Eagle Saab 340 in Boston-Logan, but was discontinued in 2008. On 25 July 2013, PenAir launched two daily scenic flights with the same turboprop equipment. The growing northeastern route network included Bar Harbor, Plattsburgh and Presque Isle.

The flights started at 20:40 and at 19:10. originating in Boston at 19.00 and 17.30 One-way introductory prices were set at $ 119.

The last contacted airline, Allegiant Air, also brought its wings to Long Island.

"Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Company," said the press release, "focuses on connecting small city travelers with world-class leisure destinations and operates a highly efficient, low-fare passenger airline for all jets." The subsidiary Allegiant Air also offers other travel-related products such as hotel rooms, rental cars and attraction tickets. "

After market surveys revealed that a connection to Florida's west coast is required, the city of Islip courted the airline, which considered demographic trends favorable and announced its intention on August 20, 2013. It would be the 99th US city to be one of 14 serviced tourist destinations.

"We are pleased to add beaches in southwest Florida as an affordable and convenient destination option for Long Island residents," the press release said. "We are confident that the community will appreciate the convenience of a non-stop flight to Punta Gorda."

Allegiant opened Punta Gorda / Ft. Myers flies four months later, on December 20, with a 166-passenger MD-80 that operates as Flight 999 and departs at 19:20, a date that serves as the threshold for the traditional Christmas and winter season in Florida.

After consulting additional seasonal and year-round service to Myrtle Beach, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Las Vegas would be considered.

4. Current service:

Before Long Island MacArthur Airport can have an economic impact on the region, a sufficient flight service is required. With 23 departures until January 2014, two of which were not even performed daily, this goal was hardly achieved.

Southwest, still the dominant airline, offered five flights to Baltimore, three to Orlando, two to Ft. Lauderdale, two to West Palm Beach and one to Tampa – or a total of 13 with 737-700 aircraft. This was just one more thing than it had offered in 1999, when it had triggered the airport's recent growth phase and returned it to its origins.

US Airways, a stronghold since the Allegheny service days, offered four daily DHC-8 turboprop flights from de Havilland via the regional airline Piedmont to Philadelphia and two with the regional jet Bombardier CRJ-200 from Air Wisconsin to Washington.

PenAir connected Boston to two Saab 340 departures and Allegiant Air connected the Long Island field to Ft two weekly MD-80 flights. Myers / Punta Gorda.

The re-establishment of important business connections to Boston and Washington, each with two flights of up to 50 passengers, allowed travelers to avoid the overload and commuting times associated with La Guardia, and meant a step in the right direction. But it was just a baby. If Long Island MacArthur is to grow back into a regional provider that reaps its own economic sustainability through landing, operating, office, concession and parking fees, air traffic needs to be much more promoted.