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MacArthur to debut daily flights to D.C.

For the first time in a decade, Long Island will have direct daily flights to Washington, D.C., beginning March 25.

US Airways is expected to announce Tuesday flights that will depart Long Island MacArthur Airport at 6:20 a.m. and 7:49 a.m. daily, returning from Reagan National at 11:35 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily, according to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a key advocate for MacArthur who worked closely with the airline.

Shuttle service to Washington from Long Island ceased after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when the D.C. airport restricted flights. In 2009 US Airways announced it would consider D.C.-to-Long Island round-trip shuttle service pending federal approvals of a takeoff and landing slot swap with Delta, which occurred in October.

Since then, Schumer has worked with the carrier to ensure it held up its end of the bargain.

"US Airways is fulfilling its promise to me," Schumer said Monday night. "This is another step in making MacArthur a more important, more convenient and better-used airport for Long Islanders, because Reagan, 10 minutes from downtown, is by far the destination preferred by both business and leisure travelers."

For airport Commissioner Teresa Rizzuto, the announcement is vindication of some of the work she and former Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan did to try to lure more commercial service to MacArthur, which the town owns.

Speaking just hours after her new boss, Tom Croci, was inaugurated, Rizzuto said: "Supervisor Croci and I are eager to see US Airways and other airlines expand at MacArthur, and we look forward to working further with Senator Schumer and our other supporters."

Schumer has been a key player in efforts to woo JetBlue to the airport, but there has been no official word on its MacArthur plans from that carrier in recent months.

Croci said MacArthur would be a priority for his administration. "I look forward to working with our senators and congressmen to ensure the jewel of our town, Long Island MacArthur Airport, gets the resources and attention it requires to live up to its full potential," he said. "We need the jobs and the economic boost that this airport can provide."

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