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JetBlue chooses landing site in Massachusetts

A line of taxis wait for customers at

A line of taxis wait for customers at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. (Jan. 24, 2013) Credit: Daniel Brennan

JetBlue has announced a new destination at a regional airport in central Massachusetts, but aviation experts and airline officials say that does not rule out Long Island MacArthur as a future host for the carrier.

"The answer is simple: No," said JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg. "We're looking at any number of cities in a given time for potential future service." Steinberg said Ronkonkoma is included in the list of possible destinations.

JetBlue will begin daily flights from Worcester Regional Airport to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando on Nov. 7. But Worcester and MacArthur are different markets and have nothing to do with each other, said Port Washington-based aviation consultant Robert Mann.

"I don't think one precludes the other," Mann said. "People see a carrier who has kicked the tires, so to speak, at MacArthur and dedicates an airplane to other markets, so it must be a failure. But I don't think that's the case at all -- Worcester is a very different market -- it has less overlap with surrounding markets than MacArthur does with other New York City markets, for example. I think there's really no correlation with JetBlue's intent at MacArthur."

Terry Hennessey, deputy airport commissioner at the Islip Town-run MacArthur Airport, said any concern is "much ado about nothing" and that MacArthur is still in talks with JetBlue to bring service to Islip.

"They routinely announce new destinations, fairly frequently," Hennessey said of the airline. "We're still actively pursuing and doing everything we can to make the airport appealing to them, but this is just one more destination in their network. It absolutely is not related."

Hennessey added that they did not expect the air carrier to come to MacArthur in the immediate future because of their commitments elsewhere, but that they are in continuing discussions with JetBlue.

"They probably still have a fair amount of capacity at Kennedy they have to fill," he said. "So it's not a dead deal. But once they get to the point where they're saturated at Kennedy or close to it, that's when they'll look at other opportunities."

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