Located on 1,310 acres in Suffolk County, Long Island MacArthur Airport is the region's only commercial service facility that has struggled with identity and purpose for most of its existence.
Its second – and oval-shaped – 50,000-square-foot passenger terminal, opened in 1966 and sports-developed two opposite, ramp access gates, had radiated a small hometown atmosphere – so much so that scenes from the original Out-of-Towners movie had been filmed in it .
Its subsequent expansion, which resulted in a thousand percent increase in passenger terminal area and about two million annual passengers, was sporadic and cyclical, characterized by a new airline business that had always given rise to a number of passenger attractions, new nonstop route implementation and additional carriers. before the declining conditions had begun a reverse trend. During bicycle peaks, check-in, gate and ramp space had a prize, while a trough could be heard pin-drop on the terminal floor.
Its Catch-22 fight had always brought about the circular argument that airlines unwilling to provide service to the airport due to a lack of passengers and passengers unwilling to use the airport due to a lack of service.
This is essentially the strength that shaped its seven decades of history. And this is basically Long Island MacArthur Airport history.
The Civilian Aeronautics Act of 1938, pursuant to section 303, authorized federal fund costs for landing areas, provided that the administrator could affirm "such landing areas were reasonably necessary for use in aviation or for the sake of national defense."
At the outbreak of World War II, Congress appropriated $ 40 million for the development of landing areas for national defense, or "DLAND," where the Developmental Citizens (DCLA) had been an extension. Because civil aviation had initially been perceived as an "attachment" to military aviation, it had been considered a "segment" of the national defense system, thus collecting direct federal government civilian airport support. Local authorities provided land and subsequently maintained and operated airports. Construction of 200 such airports began in 1941.
A Long Island regional airport, located in Islip, had been one of them. On September 16 of the same year, the City of Islip – the intended owner and operator of the originally named Islip Airport – sponsored the project under an official decision designated by Public Law 78-216, which provided the land while the federal government passed to plan and build the actual airport. The 1-year, $ 1.5 million construction project initiated in 1942 resulted in an airfield with three 5,000-foot runways and three associated taxis. Although it had fulfilled its original military purpose, it was always intended for public use.
Despite increased instrument-based flight training following the installation of Instrument Landing System (ILS) equipment in 1947, the regional facility failed to meet the expected expectations of becoming New York's largest airport following the recent construction of Idlewild. Losing Lockheed as a major tenant in 1950, it would since renamed MacArthur Airport, in honor of General Douglas MacArthur, embark on a long path of development before it would happen.
2. Initial service
A 5,000-square-foot passenger terminal and restaurant, funded by the federal government, had been built in 1949. Infrastructure-equipped, the airport, surrounded by local community growth, sought its first public air service by petitioning the Civil Aeronautics Board. Islip had tried to attract scheduled air travel as far back as 1956, and this ultimately took the form of Gateway Airlines three years later, as it had begun operations, at a flight taxi level, with a fleet of 11 passengers de Havilland Doves and 15 – Passing the Havilland Herons to Boston, Newark and Washington. However, insufficient funding had led to its premature termination only eight months later.
The airport, which had only 20 based aircraft at this time, fielded about 30,000 movements each year. Allegheny Airlines then received the full CAB passenger route itinerary in 1960 and inaugurated four daily Convair and Martinliner round trips to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington in September with more than 19,000 passengers in 1961, its first full year of operation.
Two years later, the FAA opened a New York Air Route Traffic Control Center and a seven-story control tower, and in 1966, a $ 1.3 million, 50,000-square-foot oval terminal replaced the original rectangular facility.
Mohawk, who was assigned to the second CAB routing that year, inaugurated the Fairchild FH-227 service to Albany, and the two scheduled air carriers carried approx. 110,000 passengers from the since-renamed Islip MacArthur airport in 1969. The 210 based aircraft recorded 240,000 annual movements.
Runways and taxis were gradually expanded, in part in response to Eastern and Pan Am & # 39; s designation of the airport as an "alternative" to their flight plans.
3. First Major Carrier Service
Long imagined as a relief airport for JFK and La Guardia, which would provide limited, but important, nonstop service to major US cities and hubs, such as Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Chicago and major Florida destinations, Long The island airport was in urgent need of additional large airlines, but this goal remained elusive.
However, the cycle had been broken on April 26, 1971, when American Airlines inaugurated 727-100 "Astrojet" service for Chicago-O & # 39; Hare, Islip's first clean-jet and first "trunk" operation, allowing the same day , business trip around and eliminate the otherwise required La Guardia commute. Because of America's top driver, it had attracted both attention and passengers, indicating that Islip had achieved "big airport" status and the Chicago route, now the longest nonstop from the airfield, had provided a vital lifeline to a primary, Midwestern city, and to American & # 39; s route system offering numerous flight connections.
The route was quickly followed in the summer with the inauguration of Allegheny DC-9-30 service to Providence and Washington, while two years later Altair had launched turboprop flights Beech B99 and North N.262 to Bridgeport and Philadelphia.
American Allegheny (which was periodically merged with Mohawk in 1972), and Altair provided the established Long Island air service during the 1970s.
To reflect its regional location, the facility was renamed for the fourth time and adopted the title of Long Island MacArthur Airport in 1978.
For most of the 1970s, it handled an average of 225,000 passengers annually. Allegheny, the leading operator, had offered nine daily departures with pure jet BAC-111 and DC-9-30 during 1978.
In March 1982, USAir, the diverted Allegheny Airlines, had been its only remaining clean jet carrier with daily DC-9-30 service to Albany and BAC-111-200 service to Washington National – perhaps stressing its ability to be profitable run from small community airfields with its properly sized double-jet equipment.
The early 1980s were characterized by commuter-regional carrier dominance with operations provided by Pilgrim, New Haven Airlines, Altair, Air North, Mall Airways and Ransome. The latter, first flying as part of the Allegheny Commuter consortium, later operated independently under its own name in conjunction with Delta Air Lines, offering about 17 daily M-298 and DHC-7 departures to seven regional cities.
Except for Ransome, it had often seemed as if the airport regional airline's gaps had opened gapply: Suburban / Allegheny Commuter, Southern Jersey / Allegheny Commuter, Empire and Henson-The Piedmont Regional Airline were all descent on the runways. Precision, which had inaugurated multi-day Dornier Do-228-200 services for both Boston and Philadelphia, operated independently, as Precision-Eastern Express and as Precision-Northwest Airlink, and had been the only airline to offer route planning from neighboring countries. Republic Airport in Farmingdale, primarily a general aviation field.
4. Northeastern International Airlines
Market research had long indicated the need for nonstop Long Island-Florida service because of its concentration of tourist attractions and to facilitate visits between Long Island children and Florida-relocated retired parents. Deregulation, the very power of creating multiple airlines, divergent service and ticket prices, and the relative ease of new market entry, had created Northeastern International, founded to provide high-density, low-fare, limited facilities and fulfill the idealized nonstop service. connection, the Long Island-Florida connection when it inaugurated the operation on February 11, 1982 with a former Evergreen International DC-8-50, initially with four weekly round trips to Fort Lauderdale and one to Orlando. After another aircraft was acquired, it had been able to register a total of 150,000 passengers during the first year of operation, with 32,075 having been on board alone in December.
Although its headquarters had been located in Fort Lauderdale, its operational base was established on Long Island MacArthur, and it ultimately served Fort Lauderdale, Hartford, Miami, Orlando and St. Louis. Petersburgh with the two DC-8's and two former Pan Am 727-100s with seven daily departures. With both the charter company strategy to operate high density, single class, low cost service and the largest airline strategy of flying large capacity aircraft, it actually served a very competitive route – from New York to Florida – with no competition whatsoever by operating directly from Islip.
By 1984, when Northeastern had served as a catalyst for route and route introduction, eleven airlines had served the airport, including Allegheny Commuter, American, Eastern, Empire, Henson, NewAir, Northeastern, Pilgrim, Ransome, United and USAir JFK and La Guardia for air services that directly serve the Long Island market and fulfill the airport's originally envisioned role as becoming New York's secondary commercial facility. While providing nonstop service to Chicago-O & # 39; Hare from Islip, both American and United competed for the same passenger base.
By 1986, Long Island MacArthur, for the first time in its 36-year planned history, had handled a million passengers in a single year, a level that has since equaled or exceeded.
To meet the explosive demand and ease its current excessive passenger facilities, the city of Islip embarked on a progressive terminal facilities improvement program that had originally included the addition of two commuter airports, the enclosure of the former curb and two glass-enclosed wings west of the now covered luggage carousel and east of the three relocated rental car counters and Austin travel agency. The internal roadway was re-adjusted and additional parking spaces were created.
A more ambitious terminal expansion program, which took place in 1990 and cost $ 3.2 million, resulted in two jet-lined concourses extending from the rear of the oval terminal, adding 22,700 square feet of space. Runway 6-24 & # 39; s 1,000-foot extension to 7,000 feet was eventually completed three years later after a decade of primarily local resident resistance due to assumed noise increase.
By the end of 1990, the transformation of Long Island MacArthur Airport from a small, hometown airport served by a couple of operators to a major facility served by most of the major carriers was complete.
Several conclusions could already be drawn from the airport's 30-year history.
1. Allegheny-USAir with its regional subsidiaries Allegheny Commuter and USAir Express had delivered the original spark that had led to the current growth explosion and had been the only consistent anchor carrier during its three-decade, planned service history, between 1960 and 1990 During this period, it had absorbed other Islip operators, including the original Mohawk and Piedmont, whose latter intermittently had absorbed Empire and Henson and had cast still others, such as Ransome Airlines, which as an independent carrier had almost established a regional , turboprop hub at MacArthur.
2. Three carriers were equivalent to three decades of development: (1). Allegheny-USAir, who had reserved the distinction of being Long Island MacArthur's first, largest, and at a time purely jet operator; Americans who had changed their image by associating it with great, trunk prestige; and Northeastern, whose bold, innovative service dedication and low prices had been directly responsible for the recent, incessant growth cycle.
3. Many airlines, unaware of the facility's traffic potential, never permanently abandoned the airfield, including US and Eastern, both of which had halted operations but subsequently returned; Northeastern, who had returned after two bankruptcies; United, which had ceased its own service but maintained a presence through two separate regional carriers — President-United Express and Atlantic Coast-United Express — and thus continued to connect its Washington-Dulles hub; Continental, which had returned through its own commuter agreement; and Pilgrim, which, despite discontinuing service, maintained an autonomous check-in counter where it had handled other carriers until it had reinstated service itself.
4. Of the approx. Thirty airlines that served Long Island MacArthur had many indirectly maintained a presence either through name change, other carrier absorption or regional carriers' two-letter code sharing agreements.
5. The Northeast forged air link between Long Island and Florida, despite its own final bankruptcy, was never lost, while other carriers always filled the void, including Eastern, Carnival, Braniff, Delta Express and Spirit Airlines.
However, due to its market fragility, Long Island Regional Airport was far more vulnerable to economic cycles than the primary New York airports had been, receding conditions that often resulted in relocation of carriers in search of more profitable routes. In 1994, for example, three carriers ceased to service and one ceased to operate entirely.
A $ 13.2 million expansion program of the 32-year-old, multi-restored oval terminal, funded with passenger facility fee (PFC)-generated revenue, was initiated in the spring of 1998 and completed in August of the following year, resulting in a 62,000-square-foot acreage increase. The enlarged, reconfigured structure included the addition of two wings – the western one with four luggage carousels, three rental cars, and several aircraft baggage service offices, and the eastern one with 48 (as opposed to the previous 20) passenger check-in positions. The original, oval-shaped structure now contained an enlarged kiosk and gift shop and the relocated central security checkpoint, but retained the exit-level snack bar, the upper-level Skyway Café and cocktail lounge, and the two jetbridge-supplied concourses added during the 1990's expansion phase, while the parking ramp for aircraft was gradually increased until the last blade of grass had been converted to concrete. A remodeled entryway, an extension of the existing short-term parking space, 1,000 additional parking spaces and a quasi-parking space system divided into employee, resident, hourly, daily and economy (long-term) sections had completed the renovation. Bus transport between the parking lot and the terminal was provided for the first time.
5. Southwest Airlines
Efforts to attract Southwest Airlines had begun in late 1996, when the rapidly expanding, very profitable, low-cost carrier was considering services to a third northeastern city after Manchester and Providence, including Newburgh's Stewart International and White Plains & # 39; Westchester County in New York; Hartford and New Haven in Connecticut; and Teterboro and Trenton's Mercer County in New Jersey. All had been smaller, secondary airports characteristic of its route system. It had even briefly examined service to Farmingdale's Republic Airport on Long Island and Teterboro in New Jersey, both of which had been non-commercial, general aviation fields with business jet concentrations. Three had offered terminal improvements in exchange for the service. But Long Island MacArthur was ultimately chosen because of the 1.6 million residents who lived within a 20-mile radius of the airport, local corporate health, and, according to Southwest Chief Executive Officer, Herb Kelleher, "underestimated, overpriced air traffic" , which was "ripe for competition."
Following the original southwest interest in 1997, then-City of Islip Supervisor Peter McGowan and other officials flew to Dallas, where Herb Kelleher declared the need for the previously described expansion of terminal and parking facilities before operations could begin. The meeting ended with only a symbolic handshake.
The nearly two-year effort to lure the airline had culminated in the December 1998 announcement of Southwest's scheduled March 14, 1999 service launch with 12 daily 737 departures, including eight to Baltimore, two to Chicago-Midway, one to Nashville, and one to Tampa, which would all provide through or connect service to 29 other southwest-operated cities. Although low-cost images were expected to attract some passengers who might otherwise have flown from JFK or La Guardia airports, they were primarily targeted to the Long Island market, and as a by-product, they were expected to attract increased airport traffic base, additional carriers and generate an estimated $ 500,000 per years for the town of Islip. Two southwest dedicated gates could accommodate up to 20 daily departures – or eight more than the initial flight plan included – before additional facilities were needed. The Islip station, which is staffed with 44, represented its 53rd destination in 27 states.
Southwest had delivered the fourth spark in the Long Island MacArthur Airport flight and passenger attraction, the trail as follows:
1. The original flight taxi Gateway Airlines service in 1959 and the original scheduled Allegheny Airlines service from 1960.
2. The first trunk, flights with pure American Airlines from 1971.
3. The First Northeastern International Florida Low-fare Service, 1982.
4. The first low-cost, high-frequency southwest service from 1999.
Americans, the last of the original large carriers to leave the airport, left it with three dominant types of airlines as the millennium approached:
1. Turboprop commuter airline serving nonhub provisions such as Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Hartford and Newburgh.
2. The regional jet operator, which feeds its major carrier's affiliate in one of its hubs, such as ASA, which feeds Delta in Atlanta, Comair connecting Delta in Cincinnati, and Continental Express integrates its flight plan with Continental in Cleveland.
3. The high-density, no-frills carrier operating the leisure-oriented sectors to Florida. As of December 1, 1999, three airlines, including Delta Express, Southwest, and Spirit, had been driving 15 daily flights to five destinations in Florida.
Long Island MacArthur's expansion and enhancement of passenger facilities, Southwest's inauguration and attraction of other carriers had resulted in an increase in passenger seats by 113% in 1999 compared to the previous year. The figure, which had only been shy about the two million mark, had been the highest in Long Island Airport's four-decade commercial history. Southwest had carried 34% of this total.
Eleven airlines had provided service during this period: ASA Atlantic Southeast, American, Business Express, Comair, CommutAir / US Airways Express, Continental Express, Delta Express, Piedmont / US Airways Express, Shuttle America, Spirit and Southwest itself.
Less than two weeks after Southwest secured a third gate and increased its daily departures to 22, it announced, in an unprecedented move, its intention to self-fund 90 percent of a $ 42 million expansion to East Concourse to construct four additional dedicated gates and overnight parking at the end of 2001, increasing the airport's current 19-gate total to 23.
The bankruptcy expansion, which would give it both increased staff and passenger space, would free up its existing three gates to utilize other carriers, while its new four-gate facility allows an increase in service to approx. 30 daily flights based on future passenger demand, flight availability, and Town-Islip-approved departure are on the rise.
The extension marks the seventh such development of the original terminal as follows:
1. The original oval terminal construction.
2. The partially closed arrival luggage belt installation.
3. Construction of two commuter gates.
4. The enclosure to the front awning, which resulted in the relocation of the rental car companies and Austin travel agency, and the installation of an enlarged, fully enclosed luggage belt.
5. The construction of jetbridge-equipped eastern and western contours.
6. The construction of the Western Arrival Hole and the Eastern Departure Wing, the Gift Shop Expansion and the Central Security Control relocation.
7. The southwest-funded, four-wheeled addition, increasing the number of departures from 19 to 23.
Victims, like all airports, for the traffic decline after September 11, Long Island MacArthur Airport lost eight daily flights operated by American Eagle, Delta Express and US Airways Express, although the airport's passenger numbers in October 2001 were only six percent below those in the previous year . However, no direct destinations had been interrupted. As Delta Express's daily 737-200 Florida flight frequency had gradually been reduced from a seven-day high to just one – to Fort Lauderdale – its operations could be divided into three categories:
1. Turboprop regional
2. Clean jet region
Nevertheless, in the four years since Southwest opened its service, the airport has handled 8,220,790 passengers, or an annual average of two million. Without the Southwest, it would have handled only half of that amount at best.
On April 30, 2003, Long Island MacArthur Airport broke ground for new terminal facilities for the second time in a five-year period. Designed by Baldassano Architectural Group, the Long Island architectural firm that had completed $ 13.2 million. Airport Expansion and Modernization Program In 1999, the new, 154,000-square-foot four-gate addition was constructed on the north side of the existing east bankruptcy that housed Southwest's operations. Citing increased space and potential growth as reasons for the new facility, Southwest claimed that the existing three gates, which marked a combined 24 daily departures, had reached their saturation point and that additional "breathing room" was needed for both passengers and employees especially during flight delays. The net gain of an additional gate, which would be combined with larger lounges, would eventually enable eight additional flights to new or existing US destinations, based on market demand.
The project, initially tied at $ 42 million, but later increased to $ 62 million, was funded by Southwest, which sought government subsidy with the city of Islip for up to $ 18 million for the non-airline-specific construction aspects, such as airport runways, which were considered a common application tool.
The 114,254-square-foot, southwest-funded and named Peter J. McGowan Concourse officially opened at the end of November 2004. Access to a new awning-protected entrance from the airport's terminal-fronted edge, the new wing, connected to existing passenger check-in area, curved to the left past the flight's arrival and departure TV screens for the new large security checkpoint where passengers ascended via two escalators to the upper level departure area.
Simultaneously with the opening, there had been the announcement that Southwest would now proceed with Phase II of the expansion by building another, $ 20 million addition, which would link the new bankruptcy with the old one, all replacing the eastern concourse that had served that since it was inaugurated in 1999. The project incorporated four additional gates, a total of eight, which made it possible to offer up to 80 daily departures.
6. New leadership, reduction of services and infrastructure improvements
The end of the 2000s, which is characterized by new leadership, reduction of airline services and investment in infrastructure, again signaled a turnaround in Long Island MacArthur Airport's growth cycle.
Al Werner, airport commissioner for 53 years, resigned on November 16, 2007, sending a torch to Teresa Rizzuto. Accepted after a three-month nationwide search by Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan, she brought significant aerospace industry experience and was appointed to the position on February 5, 2008 following a vote in the Islip Town Board, which has now been assigned to submit the regional facility to the next decade, whose multi-faceted agenda necessarily included the following objectives:
1. Develop a marketing plan to increase airport recognition, thereby attracting a larger passenger base.
2. Creating new direct routes for existing carriers and attracting new carriers capable of competing with existing southwest for lost costs to provide the required core service to this expanded passenger base, but avoiding alienating local residents on the grounds of excessive noise.
3. Invest in modernizing and developing infrastructure, especially on the airport's general aviation site.
4. Increase revenue for the city of Islip, the airport owner and operator.
Long Island MacArthur's very existence, dependent on its ability to meet customer needs, and both reduction of destinations and carriers over the last decade, coupled with flickering but quickly extinguished glimpses of hope for new carriers, served only its purpose.
Exploratory conversations in 2007 with e.g. The Southwest model, Ireland-based Ryanair, would have resulted in both the airport's first international and first transatlantic service, which so far has been ruled out by the absence of customs and immigration facilities, few connectivity and insufficient runway length on which heavy, fuel-laden widebody aircraft could launch to intercontinental sectors. However, higher thrust engines that facilitate performance in the shorter field had remedied the latter problem, and US & # 39; s pre-departure approval would have been done in Ireland. Because Southwest and Ryanair maintained the same business models for operating one-type, 737 fleets from undervalued, overpriced, secondary airports whose lower operating costs could be channeled to lower prices, domestic-international traffic feeds between the two were possible. Despite existing Islip service provided by Delta and the US Airways Express, Southwest still carried 92 percent of its passengers. However, the proposed strategy had not yet produced concrete results.
At the end of the year, the number of potential southwest connecting flights dropped only when a falling demand had required the cancellation of six daily departures, including two for Baltimore, three for Chicago and one for Las Vegas.
Potential counterbalance in service losses occurred on May 1 of the following year, however, after an eight-year interval, Spirit Airlines re-enrolled twice a round-trip, A-319 service to Ft. Lauderdale, with $ 7.00 introductory prices, facilitates 23 Caribbean and Latin American connections through its southern Florida hub.
A-319, the airport's first, regularly scheduled airport bus operation, touched 0954 on runway 6 on its entry flight, taxiing through a dual fire truck-created water bow before restarting at 1 p.m. 1030 as flight 833 with a high load factor. The second flight went evening.
The departures were two of Spirit & # 39; s more than 200 system flights to 43 destinations, but the low light flicker they provided was almost as quickly extinguished as rising fuel prices and declining economic conditions, three months later, on July 31, had necessitated their cessation, leaving only a promise of return when improved conditions deserve their reinstatement.
Further tilting the scales to the service loss side was Delta Air Line's decision to discontinue its only remaining single daily regional jet service operated by its Comair counterpart to Atlanta, bringing fodder to the world's largest airport in the form of scheduling and to Delta & # 39; s largest connection hub and ending the Long Island presence established as far back as 1984. Delta had cited the reason for termination along with that in other markets as an attempt to "optimize … financial results."
Det andet luftfartsselskabstab, der kun efterlod Southwest og US Airways Express, havde ført til et passagefald på 10,2 procent i 2008 sammenlignet med året før.
Et andet forsøgt, men hovedsagelig mislykket flyselskabstjeneste havde fundet sted i juni 2009 med udseendet af PublicCharters.com, der havde til hensigt at forbinde Islip med Groton, Connecticut og Nantucket, Massachusetts, i løbet af sommeren.
For at afhjælpe Long Island MacArthur Lufthavns mangel på identitetsgenkendelse konkluderede en undersøgelse afsluttet af en Phil Nolan-samlet arbejdsgruppe kraftigt, at søgningen efter og tiltrækning af ny flyselskabstjeneste "burde være et stort fokus på ledelsen", en funktion indtil nu for det meste ignoreret. The airport's lack of recognition, coupled with JFK's and La Guardia's close proximity to Manhattan and their dizzying array of nonstop services, further urged the need for the study.
A $150,000 federal grant, aimed at answering the elusive question of why Long Islanders still chose to use New York airports when Islip itself offered a nonstop flight, attempted to determine local resident travel patterns and then attract carrier-providing service.
A partial remedy had been the implementation of a $300,000 market campaign, in conjunction with the Long Island Railroad and Southwest Airlines, to increase airport awareness by the eastern Nassau and Suffolk County population, featuring the slogan, "We make flying a breeze."
Significant attention to airport infrastructure improvement and a related masterplan had also been given.
Long-awaited ramp repairs, for instance, had been made. One year after the $12.4 million apron covering gates five through eight had been laid in 2004, cracks, in which engine-digestible debris could potentially collect, appeared, and were traceable to an inadequate, six-inch-thick subbase which failed to rise above the ground level, and was therefore susceptible to frost. Water, seeping into the subbase, was subjected to freezing-thawing cycles which expanded the concrete, loosened its gravel, and propagated the cracks.
In order to replace the decaying, 105-foot control tower constructed in 1962, the FAA awarded J. Kokolakis Constructing, Inc., of Rocky Point, a $16.4 million contract to build a new, 157-foot, cylindrical tower next to it in January of 2008, a project completed in November of the following year, at which time internal equipment, costing another $8.8 million, was installed.
Instrumental in the airport's modernization had been the redevelopment of its 45-acre west side, which currently houses charter companies, flying schools, and airport maintenance in mostly dilapidated hangars and buildings, but could potentially be replaced with new energy efficient and conservation compliant structures optimally used by educational institutions offering air traffic control curriculums.
During the latter portion of the decade, Long Island MacArthur Airport once again rode the descending side of the revenue curve, but remains a vital air link and economic engine to eastern Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Between 1996 and 2003, it had experienced an average annual economic impact growth rate of 6.85 percent and between 2001 and 2007 more than 900,000 square feet of commercial space was developed along Veterans Highway, its access roadway, as a result of it. According to Hofstra University's Center for Suburban Studies, its 2003 economic impact was pegged at $202 million and was projected to increase by 68 percent, or to $340 million, by the end of the decade without any further expansion, indicating that, as a revenue generator, that its potential had hardly begun to be tapped. The service reductions, increases in Homeland Security costs, and eroding economy had all reversed that potential, but its infrastructure improvements, more than 500,000-square-foot passenger terminal, four runways, easy access, uncongested environment, two-mile proximity to the Long Island Railroad's Ronkonkoma station, and four-mile proximity to the Long Island Expressway places it squarely on the threshold of growth in the next decade, when conditions improve. According to newly appointed Airport Commissioner Teresa Rizzuto, "We're ready" for new carriers at that time.