A busier MacArthur Airport, which now sees about 20...

  A busier MacArthur Airport, which now sees about 20 arrivals a day, could boost the region's tourism industry 

Long Island could land more tourists if MacArthur Airport takes off, Hauppauge business leaders said,but it's going to take a big climb.

HIA-LI, a group representing companies in the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge, encouraged dozens of people attending a presentation inside MacArthur Airport Wednesday to envision a boom in demand on the Ronkonkoma runways. At peak capacity, MacArthur could generate $276 million in tourist spending annually, according to an HIA-LI analysis.

This forecast assumes MacArthur welcomes 100 full flights a day, as opposed to the current average which airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken said was 20 flights a day. The estimate also assumes that 10% of passengers on each Ronkonkoma-bound plane are tourists, which mirrors national travel trends.

"We need to support this airport to help support tourism," said HIA-LI board member Joe Campolo, whose law firm Campolo, Middleton & McCormick conducted the analysis. "Just imagine what that would mean for our hotel industry; just imagine what that would mean for our restaurant industry; just imagine the gas stations, the car rentals."

Campolo urged attendees to book flights at MacArthur, which is owned by the Town of Islip. Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter encouraged people to download a mobile app for Breeze Airways, which began operating at the airport in February. With enough demand, Breeze could increase its operations from 8 to 20 inbound flights per day, Carpenter said.

"We've got to demonstrate that we're going to be supportive," Carpenter said. "Use it or lose it is basically the theme."

Airport staff wave goodbye as a Breeze Airways airplane gets...

Airport staff wave goodbye as a Breeze Airways airplane gets ready for takeoff during the airline's inaugural flight last month at McArthur Airport. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

If demand rose enough for Breeze to fly in 20 completely full flights a day, Long Island would get about 78,625 more tourists spending $55 million in the region each year, the analysis said.

Airlines started reducing the number of flights to and from Ronkonkoma and pulling out of MacArthur and other smaller airports when the recession hit in 2008. The number of departures fell from roughly 14,780 in 2007 to 7,930 in 2012.

Government officials and business leaders have worked to woo back airlines. After losing money in 2010 through 2012, MacArthur regained its self-sufficiency and now has $10.2 million in surplus funds, in part because of COVID aid from the government, LaRose-Arken said.

At the panel, speakers said MacArthur would benefit from the government having local hotels charge guests a fee that is funneled to the regional tourism promotion agency, Discover Long Island.

Campolo said he planned to support MacArthur's promotional efforts by hosting a fundraiser in June.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

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