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LI MacArthur Airport Commisionor Robert Scheafer

January 11, 2013 @ 12:00 am EST


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Mr. Robert Schaefer is the recently appointed commissioner of the LI MacArther Airport and he was our guest speaker thus morning at LIMBA. Bob Schaefer has been deputy commissioner for several years before assuming his present title. His airport management experience goes back to the twenty five years he spent with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.


He began by telling us that the airport has been losing the volume of traffic that it had in earlier years. The decline has been going on for some time and Bob gave us some insights on measures that could improve the situation.


The airport needs demand to increase in order to attract airline service, and carriers need to have confidence in the fact that there will be demand if they elect to operate out of LIMA. It’s a chicken and egg situation.


Schaefer is approaching the airlines in a way that is a little different. Instead of “we have the customers who want to fly from this airport” to “we have the customers, but we are also a desirable destination.” Among the regional attractions are the East End vineyards. The weekend entertainment at these places continues throughout the year. The aquarium, the business opportunities and beaches are all good reasons people might consider flying to Long Island. He pointed out that Long Island has a fairly robust film industry and many enticing venues for people who make films, but the films that have been made here offer visitors a chance to see the villages, homes and public buildings that have been featured in films.


Signs and murals promoting valuable asset that we have on Long Island can be displayed in the airport. The science researchers that come to our universities and places like Cold Spring Harbor Labs, and Brookhaven Labs should be informed that while they have come to Long Island to embark on serious projects, there are reasons to come back later with their families to enjoy what we have here.


Schaefer suggested that we have areas in the terminal area that would be attractive to children. There are now a few events in place that tends to draw people into the airport such as the “returning heroes” notices. When an injured military person is coming into the airport a notice goes out to the community to have a welcome home for that person. That can be very touching and has the effect of the airport being perceived as being part of the community, while doing that soldier a lot of good.


The commissioner also wants to create an aviation display of the essential parts of an aircraft, perhaps a wing detail or a cut-away engine.


Commercials are being made on and around the airport campus. This creates revenue for the airport.


He wants to create a Viet Nam commemorative station in the terminal, something that will honor those previously forgotten soldiers.


During the Q&A portion of the meeting the audience offered more ideas. Including live entertainment from time to time.


The ultimate goal is to increase awareness of Long Island to people who will come into the area, and awareness of our own residence of this very functional facility that is available. LIMBA once embarked on a “Use it or lose it” campaign. That might work again.


There is much to be done to achieve the goal of attracting airlines and attracting local customers and there were many ideas that were discussed. I only touched upon some of them. Commissioner Schaefer appears to be a man who is open to new ideas.