American Airlines has filed an application with the federal Department of Transportation to operate flights between Long Island MacArthur Airport and Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, raising the possibility of the airline giant coming to Islip.
American Airlines is the parent company of US Airways after the airlines finalized a merger in December. The federal government required the merged airlines to reduce the number of slots their planes fill at Reagan as a condition of the merger.
In January, US Airways said it planned to stop flying directly between Islip and Reagan, though town officials said the two daily US Airways flights that carry about 100 passengers will run until July 1.
Now, the DOT is accepting applications from airlines to assign two new slots at Reagan, and American sees a chance to keep those direct flights between MacArthur and Reagan, officials said.
Islip Councilman John Cochrane, the town's liaison to the airport, said American's flights could bring more business to the financially struggling MacArthur.
"If American works out, they're going to look at our airport as underutilized," he said of MacArthur's potential to pick up traffic from the region's bigger airports. "It's a home run."
The airline's application, filed on March 25, asks for two daily flights to maintain "the only nonstop air service between Eastern Long Island" and Reagan, a route that "serves nearly two million residents." The daily flights would use a Bombadier CRJ-200 operated by American Eagle or US Airways Express, according to the application.
Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) issued a statement in favor of American Airline's application. Both senators wrote to the DOT in support of the application.
"Direct service between Long Island MacArthur Airport and our nation's capital would benefit Long Island commuters, businesses and travelers," Schumer said.
"We must ensure that passengers in suburban communities, including residents of Nassau and Suffolk, have access to reliable and competitive air service," Gillibrand said.
Restoring direct service to the nation's capital was also important for the area's college students, military contractors and government workers, Cochrane said.
"This is so critical because this and Boston are two meccas of industry and education and government," he said. "We're hurting and the way out of that is to get more people flying out of that airport."