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Schumer presses for funds to upgrade MacArthur

The senator said he will lobby the FAA to help the Long Island airport pay for a $70 million renovation, including a new concourse and baggage claim terminal. 

Sen. Chuck Schumer on Thursday said he will lobby for federal dollars to pay for upgrades at Long Island MacArthur Airport. (Credit: Newsday / Antonio Planas)

Sen. Chuck Schumer said Thursday he will lobby for federal dollars to help Long Island MacArthur Airport finance a new concourse and other upgrades.

The Senate minority leader, speaking from outside MacArthur, said he recently secured billions in funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, and hopes the agency will reinvest a percentage to the airport in Ronkonkoma. An expansion at MacArthur could help alleviate crowds at the busy airports serving the New York metropolitan area, he said.

The FAA Airport Improvement Fund got a $2 billion boost that Schumer said he helped land last year.

“And now Islip, right on the money, is ready to apply for some of those dollars,” he said. “With this new money, we have new opportunity, so, given the fact there is surging demand in the New York metropolitan area for air travel, Islip is ideally situated to pick up some of that slack.”

Islip Town, which owns MacArthur, this month approved $6 million for design costs for a new 100,000-square-foot concourse, a parking ramp for airplanes and upgrades to the baggage-claim terminal.

The $6 million will be reimbursed by funds from the passenger facility program, a $4.50 ticket tax, said Airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken.

The airport will apply for $70 million in grants from the FAA to pay for construction, she said. The upgrades could be completed by 2022, officials said.

Schumer said a newer MacArthur will attract more airlines looking for up-to-date terminals and new construction. Long Island’s population of about 3 million ensures the airport can sustain its future growth, and an expansion would add millions to the area’s economy, he said.

“This is Long Island’s busiest airport, but we want to make it a lot busier,” he said. “We need to get more flights to more locations, particularly the West Coast and to the Southwest to make this airport grow.”

MacArthur is now home to Southwest, American and Frontier airlines. It served about 1.6 million passengers last year, up from 1.3 million passengers in 2017, officials said.

“The town and the airport are striving to build a strong, sustainable airport with more choices for passengers,” Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said at Thursday’s news conference. “With the senator in our corner, we are going to get there.”

Also this week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced MacArthur will receive $800,000 from the state to construct an enclosed pedestrian walkway connecting a yet-to-built transportation facility — where rental cars and taxis will be located — to the airport terminal.

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