Islip Town officials want Long Islanders to know they will “stress less and pay less” when flying out of Long Island MacArthur Airport — a slogan unveiled Thursday morning as part of a new $180,000 marketing initiative.
Hoping to grow business at the airport, an advertising campaign will include promotional signs at Long Island Rail Road stations and on the sides of buses, and radio spots. A new logo features the airport code, ISP, next to a shaded map of the Island, and a new website, FlyMacArthur.com, has been launched.
“We are going to aggressively campaign against our New York competitors, Kennedy and LaGuardia,” said Shelley LaRose Arken, the airport’s commissioner, at a news conference inside the airport.
Arken said that, overall, MacArthur offers efficient security lines, convenient parking, and fewer delays and cancellations than other major airports in the metropolitan area. She also said flights at MacArthur are 45 percent less expensive than those at John F. Kennedy International Airport and 16 percent less costly than at LaGuardia Airport.
After the news conference, Arken said these statistics were gleaned from a quarterly U.S. Department of Transportation report, which showed the average price of all domestic fares for each U.S. airport in June 2016.
Carmela Bleich, general manager for Creative Travel International, a travel agency based in Melville, said “there’s no one straight answer” in comparing flight prices across airports and that availability, inventory and time of purchase all become factors in cost.
“You can’t really say that’s the case across the board that one is cheaper than the other,” said Bleich, who said she has been a travel agent for 30 years on Long Island. “If you’re talking about fare prices to the same destinations, saying they’re cheaper from MacArthur would not always be accurate.”
Residents in western Suffolk and in Nassau counties will be targeted in the advertising blitz in an attempt to lure them from booking travel through JFK and LaGuardia.
Southwest Airlines, Elite Airways and American Airlines currently operate seven daily nonstop flights out of MacArthur, and Arken hopes that by attracting new customers, additional flights will be added, followed by more nonstop routes and interest from other carriers.
“We think that a lot of the customers who are choosing our New York competitors are trapped in a really bad relationship,” Arken said. “What we can assure you is that if you choose to fly to Long Island MacArthur Airport, you will stress less and you will pay less.”
Officials from Islip Town, which owns and operates the Ronkonkoma airport, have been trying for years to develop new strategies that would aid the financially struggling airport, which operated at a loss totaling nearly $4 million from 2012 through 2014.
According to figures provided by the town, 1,356,162 people flew to and from the airport in 2012; in 2016 that number was 1,211,951.
In 2016, the total number of flights operating in and out of MacArthur was 124,164, down from 148,451 in 2012. Town expenditures have decreased at the airport over the last two years, resulting in a surplus of about $155,000 in 2015, town figures show.
“We are so, so committed to maximizing this incredible resource,” Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said. “The airport is a tremendous economic generator with over $600 million in economic activity generated because of what happens here at this airport. The potential is huge.”