The Town of Islip owns and operates Long Island MacArthur Airport, located in Ronkonkoma, 50 miles outside New York City. More than 5,000 people fly MacArthur Airport each day, making it one of the top 90 airports in the United States.
Long Island MacArthur Airport is a public airport located on Long Island, in Ronkonkoma, Town of Islip, Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is approximately one mile south of the Ronkonkoma Branch of the Long Island Railroad and has a dedicated shuttle to connect the airport to the rail line. Long Island MacArthur Airport covers an area of 1,311 acres (531 ha) containing four runways and two helipads. The Town owns and operates the airport, which serves approximately two million commercial passengers a year, as well as a thriving general aviation sector. The Department of Aviation is led by the Commissioner of Aviation and Transportation, who works closely with the Town Board to manage and steward the airport. Departments include Airport Operations, Custodial, Fire Rescue, Law Enforcement, Maintenance, and Public Affairs.
Located between Montauk Point 67 miles (108 km) to the east and Manhattan 50 miles (71 km) to the west, MacArthur Airport serves primarily the three million residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties. In addition, the airport serves travelers from the Greater New York Metropolitan Area and around the nation who want a more convenient alternative to the congestion at JFK and LaGuardia airports – both located in Queens.
The FAA designated MacArthur Airport an Official Metro Airport in early 2011, meaning it is now grouped with LaGuardia, JFK and Newark in travel and informational searches for New York airports, providing better exposure to the traveling public. MacArthur Airport, which does not share the congested air space of the city-centric airports, also has an exceptional record of on-time performance. During 2009, for instance, 83.6% of flights arrived on time and 85.6% of flights departed on time.
In April 1942, four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which precipitated the entrance of the United States into World War II, the Town of Islip entered into contract with the federal government to build an airfield on Town-owned land for potential military purposes during the war. Within months, the Civil Aeronautics Administration – predecessor to today's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)– funded construction of three paved runways. Originally named Islip Airport, at the suggestion of Charles H. Duryea, a local elected official, the airport was renamed MacArthur Airport, after General Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army.
In 1944, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation built the first hangar at the airport. Five years later, the Town built the airport's first terminal building preparing the way for commercial service. Throughout the 1950s, the Sperry Corporation conducted aerospace research at the airport.
In 1960, Allegheny Airlines (AL) was the first commercial airline to offer scheduled flights from the field to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington. The March 1961 Official Airline Guide shows five weekday Convair departures: a nonstop to Washington National, one to Baltimore, and three flights making two or three stops to Boston. The General Douglas MacArthur Terminal was completed in 1966; in 1967 Mohawk started two FH227 flights a day to Bridgeport and Albany and beyond (one continued to Toronto). A few years later American Airlines began non-stop flights to Chicago.
In the 50 years since Long Island MacArthur Airport introduced scheduled air service, the airport has become a major transportation hub and economic engine of the region. Although several airlines have discontinued service over the years, during the decade between 1999 and 2009 passenger traffic grew with the airport serving about two million passengers a year on its two commercial carriers: Southwest Airlines and US Airways Express.
Continental Express and Continental Connection offered non-stop flights to Albany and to Cleveland, but discontinued service in 2005. Spirit Airlines had scheduled service to several Florida cities and Detroit before they moved their New York business to LaGuardia Airport in 2001; in May 2008 the airline resumed service to Fort Lauderdale from MacArthur only to discontinue it shortly thereafter. Delta Express, which offered non-stop flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, discontinued service at MacArthur Airport in 2003, after experiencing a decline in passenger traffic. Delta Connection to and from Atlanta ended on May 1, 2008 following a mid-April announcement that Delta and Northwest Airlines were planning to merge – a move that led to significant operational changes for the merged airline.
As of June 2013, Southwest Airlines offers non-stop service to several Florida cities: Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach. It also offers service to its Main Hub in Baltimore, which offers connections throughout the entire Southwest system and has recently completed its merger with AirTran, adding a number of new connecting destinations. Among the new stops are connections to Aruba, the Bahams, Cancun, Montego Bay, Punta Cana and San Juan. PenAir added a pair of daily, nonstop flights to Boston on July 25, 2013, and Allegiant Air debuted service to Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers on Dec. 20, 2013. The only legacy carrier service at the airport is US Airways Express, which offers daily flights to Philadelphia and Washington-Reagan.