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Schumer calls for FAA to approve MacArthur Airport master plan after year's delay

A Boeing 737 jet comes in for landing

A Boeing 737 jet comes in for landing at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma on March 29, 2012. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Sen. Charles Schumer criticized the federal government for a yearlong delay in approving a master plan for Long Island MacArthur Airport that proponents say could bring in more air traffic and revenue to the struggling airport.

In a news conference at the Ronkonkoma airport Monday, Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for the Federal Aviation Administration to approve the Islip Town master plan immediately, saying the plan will help alleviate air congestion at the region's major airports and also help revitalize MacArthur Airport.

"The FAA has the plan sitting on its desk, and it's been sitting there for over a year," Schumer said. "My job today is to level this bureaucratic turbulence so that MacArthur's master plan can clear the runway, landing Long Island and the Town of Islip a solid win. My job is to make sure that the FAA moves this plan far more quickly than now."

"Their response has been 'We're working on it,' " he added. "They are not moving quickly enough."

A spokesman for the FAA did not comment on Schumer's remarks by Monday evening.

The heart of the master plan, submitted to the FAA in December 2013, is an extension of the shorter of the airport's two runways to 7,000 feet -- a length that would allow MacArthur to continue to operate flights during conditions when crosswinds can shut down specific runways.

Having two 7,000-foot-long runways would also allow larger aircraft to land at MacArthur. The FAA has to approve the airport master plan before the runway extension can be built.

A report released by the FAA last month about the region's major airports warned that congestion patterns indicate that, by 2020, 65 percent of flights during Kennedy Airport's busiest operating hours will have delays. At Newark Liberty, 68 percent of flights during peak times will encounter delays, compared with 72 percent at LaGuardia.

Conversely, MacArthur officials have struggled to retain passengers and airlines -- last year two airlines stopped operating at the airport.

"I don't want to say it's been languishing, but bureaucracy sometimes has things take a little longer than they should," Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said at the news conference. She noted that community forums hosted by the town have shown that Islip residents support the master plan and more flight options at MacArthur.

Schumer said he would specifically call on FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to approve the plan.

The senator then ended the news conference, noting that he had to travel to Queens to catch a flight from LaGuardia Airport to Washington, D.C.

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