Frontier Airlines Flight 1778 flew in direct from Orlando and touched down at Long Island MacArthur Airport around 9:36 a.m. Wednesday, heralding the carrier’s first service to the Ronkonkoma airport.
Orlando resident Ed Kelly took advantage of the low-cost carrier’s first flight to fly up to attend Wednesday night’s Subway Series game at Citifield. A former resident of North Massapequa, Kelly said he anticipated flying the Islip-Orlando route frequently. “I just like going to MacArthur because it’s convenient and a small airport,” he said.
The aircraft then flew back to Orlando with more than 180 passengers, including Shenekqua Johnson and her children Bernard, 9, and Janiya, 16, who were LEGOLAND-bound.
“We’ll come this way any day,” said Johnson, of Port Washington. “I would travel two hours to come to MacArthur instead of LaGuardia or JFK.”
In May, Frontier Airlines announced its first service out of MacArthur Airport to Orlando and has since added 10 additional nonstop destinations out of MacArthur to several other Florida cities as well as New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Charlotte.
“When airlines see strong demand, they respond with service,” said MacArthur Airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken at a news conference at the Islip Town-owned airport.
“We’re very grateful to Long Islanders,” said Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “They understand how important this airport is.”
Former Rocky Point resident Eileen Belle-Oudry, now of Oxford, Florida, waited to board the Orlando-bound flight with her grandsons Dominick, 5, and Henrik Granato, 4. The boys, who live in Selden, were excited for their first plane ride and for an upcoming trip to Disney World.
“We figured it was closer than going to JFK,” Belle-Oudry said of flying from MacArthur. Her husband, Denis, chimed in, “And the price!”
A Frontier executive said though the airline also flies out of LaGuardia Airport, MacArthur “made sense” as part of the airline’s expansion plans to double in size over the next five years.
“The gate availability was here for us, there’s less congestion, and LaGuardia is obviously very dense,” said Senior Director of Onboard Experience Michael Pewther in an interview. “With the population base around here, it just made sense for us to come here.”
The airline will begin flights to New Orleans, Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa and Fort Myers on Oct. 5. The service to Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul will begin next spring, with schedule details pending.