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Islip to begin new marketing campaign for its airport

Passengers check in at the Southwest Airlines counter

Passengers check in at the Southwest Airlines counter at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma on Aug. 17, 2016. Southwest is the airport's main tennant. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

A new approach to boosting Long Island MacArthur Airport’s popularity as a travel hub is set to launch later this month with the unveiling of a development plan and a $180,000 marketing initiative.

In past years, consultants were hired to help the Islip-town owned airport’s managers meet with airline officials to drum up interest in becoming a carrier at MacArthur, the airport’s commissioner, Shelley LaRose Arken said.

The new campaign will instead target potential customers across Long Island -- most notably in western Suffolk and all of Nassau county.

The marketing campaign will launch March 27, according to Arken. It will include advertisements at Long Island Rail Road stations, on buses, as well as radio spots and digital marketing on iPhones throughout the spring and fall.

A new airport logo and campaign slogan is expected to be revealed at a news conference later this month.

At a Town Board meeting last week, a one-year contract totaling $203,000 was awarded to LexVolo LLC, of Leesburg, Virginia, to provide consulting services regarding airline service development and the media plan.

Arken and other town officials believe that by putting an emphasis on attracting people to use the airport, it will result in existing airlines bringing in larger planes to comply with demand. They said they hope that will eventually lead to an increased number of flights, destinations and an interest from other carriers -- including international ones.

Currently, Southwest Airlines, Elite Airways and American Airlines operate seven daily nonstop flights out of the airport.

Passenger figures and the number of flights at the facility have been on the decline for years. In 2012, 1,356,162 people flew to and from the airport; in 2016 that number was 1,211,951, according to statistics provided by the town.

In 2012, there were a total of 148,451 flights operating in and out of MacArthur; in 2016 that number was at 124,164.

While the airport operated at a loss totaling nearly $4 million from 2012-14, it saw town expenditure decreases the last two years that resulted in a surplus of about $155,000 in 2015, according to town figures.

The preliminary budget for the airport for 2017 is earmarked at $14,603,259, a decrease of $545,668 or 3.6 percent from 2016’s adopted budget.

Totals for 2016 have not yet been finalized. Arken estimated that the airport will see $500,000 in surpluses for the year after final tallies are made.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the town is projecting a 3 percent decrease in the overall spending budget for 2017 at the airport.

Carpenter said she is “committed to supporting our marketing and air service development efforts and bringing Islip Airport into a new era.”

The town board awarded a second contract of $60,000 to John Jamotta Consulting, LLC of Hurst, Texas, to help establish and monitor strategic goals, coordinate and review research, allocate resources and provide leadership guidance as it relates to the airport’s air service development program.

Arken called the program “very cutting edge” and said similar undertakings were done successfully at airports in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Santa Barbara, California.

“If we’re able to influence the passengers over time, we’ll be able to influence the airlines over time,” Arken said. “Ultimately, other carriers will look at the airport and say, ‘What’s going on there? I want to be a part of that.’”


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