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Elite Airways to return to MacArthur Airport

Elite Airways will start flying from MacArthur Airport

Elite Airways will start flying from MacArthur Airport in September.   Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Elite Airways will make a return to Long Island MacArthur Airport early next month, officials said Wednesday.

Airport commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken said the Portland, Maine-based airline will renew flying out of the airport on a two-stop, one-route flight to Melbourne, Florida, then continue on to Bimini in the Bahamas. The airline's first return flight out of MacArthur will be on Sept. 6,  she said.

Elite flew out of the Ronkonkoma airport from summer 2016 to spring 2017, LaRose-Arken said.

“It provides Long Islanders with more options,” she said. "We're open for business. We are just glad to have Elite as one of our airline partners here at the airport."

  Elite will be the fourth airline, joining American, Southwest and Frontier, to offer flights out of the airport.

John Pearsall, president of Elite Airways, said the airline has been offering flights to Bimini from Newark, New Jersey, for more than a year. The majority of its passengers flying to the Bahamas were Long Islanders, prompting the airline to return to MacArthur.

"We tried to design the service to be more accommodating for our customers," Pearsall said. "It's a convenient, nice way to get to Bimini."

Pearsall said stiff competition from other airlines flying to Florida was partly to blame for Elite suspending service from MacArthur in April 2017. He said the airline may add more destinations from MacArthur in the future.

The Islip Town Council voted on Tuesday to hold a public meeting about Elite's return on Sept. 25. A resolution from the Tuesday meeting said the town’s Department of Aviation and Transportation recommends entering into an agreement with the airline for one year, with an option to renew for an additional year. The resolution also said the airline will have to abide by fees and rent set by the airport.

Elite will fly a CRJ-200 aircraft that holds 50 passengers, LaRose-Arken said.

Before suspending service at the airport in April 2017, Elite Airways had twice-weekly flights to Melbourne, Florida, and seasonal service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Bar Harbor, Maine.

LaRose-Arken said Wednesday even though the airline and MacArthur parted ways last year, communication lines about a possible return remained open.

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