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Allegiant airline comes to MacArthur Airport

Ramp agent Vince Divon retrieves gate-checked items of

Ramp agent Vince Divon retrieves gate-checked items of an Allegiant Air jet parked at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. (May 9, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

Another airline is coming to Long Island MacArthur Airport.

Las Vegas-based airline Allegiant Travel Co. will begin service from MacArthur to the Fort Myers, Fla., area by the end of the year, Islip Town and Allegiant officials are expected to announce Tuesday.

The airline will run two weekly direct flights to and from the Punta Gorda Airport, departing MacArthur on Fridays at 6:15 p.m. and returning Mondays at the same time.

"We are pleased to add the beaches of Southwest Florida as an affordable, convenient destination option for Long Island residents," Allegiant president Andrew C. Levy said in an email. "We are confident the community will appreciate the convenience of flying nonstop to Punta Gorda and the value of bundling their air, hotel and car rental reservation together."

Including recent addition PenAir, Allegiant will be the fourth airline operating out of the airport in Ronkonkoma.

The airline plans to offer an introductory round-trip fare of $99 -- and $69 one-way -- on flights, with capacity for 166 passengers, Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said.

She noted that surveys of MacArthur users revealed that local travelers often go to Florida. "That's how we identified the Florida west coast as a destination," she said. With that information, MacArthur courted Allegiant to come to Long Island, she said. "We certainly have the audience for them," she said.

Islip officials said the launch will be set for Dec. 20 -- which will "definitely be in time for the snowbirds to flock south," Bergin Weichbrodt said.

MacArthur Commissioner Robert Schaefer said he hopes Allegiant will have enough success to consider adding more service. "Like all the airlines do now, they try one flight and, if it does well, they will add other locations," he said.

Bergin Weichbrodt said the Allegiant addition might mark a turnaround for the ailing airport, which lost 46 percent of its daily flights between 2007 and 2012, according to a recent report.

"This is a great thing. This airport has been on the decline over the last several years, and we're doing everything we can to get airlines in the door and remain a fiscally viable airport," she said, adding "It's very important for the airport to stay healthy because a lot of businesses around the area depend on the airport."

She said the airport is sending a message to other airlines that might want to expand service to the New York region.

"We're letting it be known that we're standing here with open arms and inviting airlines to come to MacArthur," she said.

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