MacArthur Airport to lose two daily flights to Washington, D.C.

An aerial view of Long Island MacArthur Airport.

An aerial view of Long Island MacArthur Airport. (Dec. 12, 2011) (Credit: Charles Eckert)

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Long Island MacArthur Airport is losing its two daily US Airways flights to Washington, D.C.

American Airlines, which is now the parent company of US Airways after the airlines finalized a merger in December, said the federal government is requiring it to reduce the number of slots it fills at Washington Reagan National Airport as a condition of the merger.

MacArthur is one of 17 airports nationally that will no longer have direct flights to Reagan under the divestiture, or reduction. Islip Town officials said the flights would likely continue through at least the end of this year. The two flights carry a daily total of 100 passengers, officials said. MacArthur's four daily US Airways flights to Philadelphia are unaffected.

Islip Councilman John Cochrane said the changes were emblematic of the challenges facing MacArthur, but he remained optimistic about the airport's growth. "It's two steps forward, three steps back," Cochrane said. "But it gives us the opportunity to talk to Delta or United for those slots."

American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said there were no specific criteria for why MacArthur and the other airports -- including those in Augusta, Ga., Little Rock, Ark., Pensacola, Fla., and Detroit -- are losing flights to Washington.

"We certainly did not want to make a change there," he said of MacArthur, and added, "we continually evaluate our network to make sure we maximize our reach."

American Airlines said it did not have a timeframe for when the flights will cease from Islip. An Islip town official said that flights are still being booked through the end of 2014.

"We are disappointed at news about this divestiture. We continue to work hard at restoring service at MacArthur every day, and we are in frequent communication with many carriers to maintain this slot which has the opportunity to be bid out to continue Washington, D.C., service," said town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia in an email.

She said the announcement will "give other airlines that may have renewed interest in servicing our market" to come forward.

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