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Islip board OKs pact for PenAir flights at MacArthur

A Boeing 737 jets lands at MacArthur Airport.

A Boeing 737 jets lands at MacArthur Airport. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

The Islip Town board Tuesday voted unanimously to add to its lineup at Long Island MacArthur Airport two daily round-trip flights to Boston via Alaska based-carrier PenAir, then took a moment to deliver a message to Long Island residents.

"We said we were going to bring back Long Island MacArthur Airport, we said we were going to return the flights and the resources to you, and we are, so thank you very much," said Supervisor Tom Croci, adding he hopes that PenAir's arrival at MacArthur will lead to other airlines making similar commitments.

The announcement that PenAir would be coming to the Ronkonkoma airport came late last week. The airport has 25 flights a day from two carriers, Southwest Airlines and US Airways, down from nearly 50 in 2008.

After the town board voted, 5-0, to enter into an agreement with PenAir, airport Commissioner Robert Schaefer credited the Federal Aviation Administration's air-carrier incentive program, which allows airports to offer reduced rent and landing fees to new carriers or existing carriers flying to new destinations.

"I just want to thank the town board for their foresight to give us the tools using the incentive program. This never would have happened without that," Schaefer said.

The incentive program means the town-run airport will waive two years of rent and office and operational fees for PenAir, valued at about $120,000 total, provided the airline stays at MacArthur for another two years after the incentive ends, deputy airport commissioner Terry Hennessey said. PenAir's landing fees, which Hennessey said are about $42 per landing based on the weight of the airline's Saab 340 turbo props, will be waived for two years as well. PenAir also will get a two-year discount on a fuel-flowage fee at the airport's fuel farm.

Hennessey said the town waived the fees "for the sake of new business with the hopes that it's going to endure beyond two to four years."

Croci said discussions with PenAir began about a year ago; former Commissioner Teresa Rizzuto was fired by the board last June.

Daily flights to and from Boston's Logan International Airport will begin July 25, at an initial one-way rate of $119.

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