Southwest drops 2 flights at MacArthur in January

A Southwest Airlines' 737 comes in for a

A Southwest Airlines' 737 comes in for a landing at MacArthur Airport. (March 29, 2012) (Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

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Southwest Airlines has scheduled seasonal reductions in flights from Long Island MacArthur Airport, which will temporarily drop the daily number of the carrier's flights departing the Ronkonkoma airport from 15 to 13 in January, officials say.

In February, Southwest plans to restore the flights and add three more, bringing its departures to 18, said deputy airport commissioner Terry Hennessey.

Because seasonal travel to Florida typically drops after the holidays, Southwest officials said that in January the airline plans to temporarily drop one flight each to Fort Myers and West Palm Beach.

"January for the airline industry is just one of those months that's typically very slow," said Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger. February will see three added flights at MacArthur, one each to Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

"They look at forward bookings three months out, and they make a determination on whether it's worth it to run the flight or not," Hennessey said, adding that seasonal reductions at MacArthur are normal.

"Any reduction is unwelcome, but we understand the reasons why," he said. "We understand people aren't going to fly empty planes around -- we'd be happier if we were able to fill the planes, but we understand the seasonal challenges."

Hennessey said the goal is to bring enough traffic to the airport that seasonal reductions are unnecessary. February's increase, he said, reflects demand. "That's why we see the February schedule as being so encouraging," he said. "It's a nice bump up."

The airline is dedicated to MacArthur and it's typical for flights to ebb and flow based on demand, Eichinger said, "but we're not reducing or eliminating" service to any particular city.

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