Officials Lobby to Get JetBlue to MacArthur

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Local lawmakers are hoping to land a new carrier at Long Island's MacArthur Airport: JetBlue. (Published Monday, Jul 18, 2011)

    Federal and local officials have launched a campaign to land a new tenant at Long Island's MacArthur airport.

    That potential tenant is JetBlue, which is looking to expand its operations in the Northeast, according to Sen. Charles Schumer.

    "MacArthur is one of the contenders," said Schumer.

    Schumer joined Islip town officials and business leaders outside the airport's main terminal Monday to announce "an effort to bring JetBlue to Long Island."

    In a letter to JetBlue's CEO, Schumer called MacArthur an "ideal location."

    No one was happier to hear that than frequent flier Tony Diaz, who drives 34 miles east of his Manhasset home to fly out of MacArthur.

    "I find it's very convenient," said Diaz. "The security lines are short. As soon as you get on the airplane, you're in the air."

    An airport study determined that 75 percent of the four million air travelers living near MacArthur fly out of LaGuardia, JFK or Newark airports instead.

    MacArthur handles just 24 flights a day, far below its capacity.  Most of the flights are from Southwest Airlines, the airport's main tenant.

    A marriage with JetBlue, officials insisted, would open the airline to more Long Island customers, bring jobs and economic growth to the airport area and even alleviate congestion at both LaGuardia and JFK airports.

    "I think it's a good thing," said air traveler Diane Soltner.  The more available flights the better."

    JetBlue refused to comment. A decision could come, Schumer said, in a few months.

    "Is it a done deal? Absolutely not," said Schumer. "Do we have a decent chance of winning? Yes."

    Some residents living near the airport don't see a JetBlue move as a "win" for them.

    "At night, if you're watching TV and a plane takes off, I can't hear my TV," said Bohemia civic leader Tony Persico, who has lived near MacArthur for 30 years.

    "They have to understand people live here and we don't want to be awakened at 5:30 in the morning by a plane."

    Airport neighbors want to limit a noise increase, Persico said, with strictly enforced guidelines of when planes can fly.  Residents also believe there should be some economic benefit for them of enduring an expanded airport.

    "We don't want another JFK," said Persico.

    Islip officials insist there would be no additional noise or traffic issues.