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General aviation landing fee at MacArthur Airport

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.

Cost-free general aviation landings at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma could soon be a thing of the past.

The Islip Town board will vote Tuesday on imposing a landing fee for personal and business planes at the airport. If approved, noncommercial, transient aircraft would pay $1.44 per 1,000 pounds of gross landing weight to touch down at MacArthur, with a $10 minimum.

Deputy Airport Commissioner Terry Hennessey said airport officials want to take advantage of all possible revenue, and that MacArthur is the last Long Island airport with a control tower that doesn't charge a general aviation landing fee.

Republic Airport in East Farmingdale charges on a sliding scale, a spokesman said. Since the last fee hike in 2008, aircraft of up to 5,000 pounds pay $2.50 to land. That rises to $93.75 for a 70,001- to 100,000-pound plane.

Hennessey said about 125,000 -- or 89 percent -- of the 140,540 flights that landed at MacArthur last year were general aviation or air taxi. Only transient aircraft would be billed -- meaning those not based in hangars at MacArthur -- and Hennessey said he hopes the fee would rake in about $100,000 in revenue annually.

"It's good for the airport, it's a healthy move financially for us and it is consistent with what other people are doing," Hennessey said. He pointed out that MacArthur's commercial carriers have paid the same fee since 1991.

But Ed Libassi, president of A&P Aircraft Maintenance, based at MacArthur, said he adamantly opposes the fee. He fears it could keep his customers away and would hurt pilots trying to further their aviation education.

"Every time these poor people who are just trying to be better pilots take off and land, then the airport is going to charge them," Libassi said. "It's [going to] add up . . . It's just another hassle, another nail in the coffin of aviation."

If approved, the fee would take effect Dec. 1, and would come with a nighttime surcharge -- landings between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. would be charged $2.16 per 1,000 pounds.

The Islip Town board meets Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Town Hall, 655 Main St.

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