Therea Rizzuto -Islip MacArthur – New role Metro N Y
July 15, 2011 @ 12:00 am EDT
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Teresa Rizzuto is the Commissioner of our local airport, Long Island MacArthur Airport. She spoke to us this morning. This airport has been a valued asset to the region for a long time. It is an economic engine that provides 6,000 direct and indirect jobs. In the entire state the aviation industry contributes $50 billion dollars to the New York economy and employs 400,000 people. In other words, this is a serious industry, and our airport is relatively small.
Long Island MacArthur Airport serves scheduled commercial and general aviation (private planes). It is the only airport with that dual purpose and that makes the facility that much more valuable.
The airport is in a position today where it is actually handling less commercial traffic than it did a few years going from 2.6 million passengers to 1.7 million today. We believe that part of the problem is that LIMA has not been listed as a New York Airport. That has changed or it is about to change. Of the airports that serve the metropolitan region about 3 million people would be better served by using LIMA. If you measure the elements of flying, which include the proximity to the airport, ease of travel and parking when you get there, LIMA is a better choice for Long Islanders.
What we need are more airlines servicing the airport and therefore more flights. It’s a chicken and the egg situation. If you campaign to bring more passengers the loading gates there had better be planes to accommodate them. The airlines are reluctant to establish routes to the airport because currently the traffic looks like it isn’t there. We believe that the traffic would be there if the planes were there. After all, the traffic was considerably higher in the past. Where did those passengers go? Well they went to JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. I have flown out of all of those airports at one time or another as well as LIMA, and believe me LIMA is better.
Years ago we had the same problem, and the town at that time was losing money on the airport and was considering closing it. Our organization, LIMBA, created an awareness program called "Use It or Lose It" It worked.
The Port of New York Authority owns the airports to the west. The Town of Islip owns LIMA. The PA is not sympathetic to the needs of Long Island. It appears that they would rather corral the air travel to the airports they own. That’s good for them but bad for traveling public on Long Island.
Ms. Rizzuto spoke about marshaling the forces of the business community to create a new awareness program. At the same time we must convince the present carriers that we can increase the business and perhaps get other carriers to commit to flying out of our hometown airport.
So far we are not thinking that LIMA will be a full fledged international airport, but international flights through Toronto Canada would be feasible because Toronto already clears international traffic heading to the US
Jet Blue is considering expansion of their system to Providence RI or, alternately Long Island. If we can’t convince them that Long Island is a more viable choice, we’re not very good salesmen. I don’t believe we are afraid of losing the LIMA facility but we could, and it is in our best interest to retain a robust airport that makes it attractive to locate businesses nearby.