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MacArthur Airport to host new airline, Boston flights

A Boeing 737 jets lands at MacArthur Airport.

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

MacArthur Airport is scheduled to be home to a new airline and a new nonstop destination this summer when carrier PenAir adds nonstop service to Boston, Islip Town officials have announced.

PenAir, a small, Alaska-based airline, is expected to join Southwest Airlines and US Airways at MacArthur, with two daily round-trip flights to Boston's Logan International Airport starting July 25.

"We're aggressively trying to get MacArthur Airport . . . back to its status as a successful airport regionally and provide those choices to the residents and to the fliers," said Islip Supervisor Tom Croci. "I think the residents have noticed, and certainly the airlines have noticed, because we're now going to have a new airline joining the MacArthur family."

MacArthur last offered nonstop service to Boston in 2008. PenAir Chief Operating Officer Dave Hall said his company approached MacArthur officials about adding the service last year, after it came into the Northeast with service from Boston to Maine and upstate New York.

"Islip is really an extension or an expansion of the growth we need to sustain out of this new Boston hub," Hall said, adding that MacArthur's "catchment" area of about 2 million people was extremely attractive.

"So it's a very large market that currently has no nonstop service to Boston, so that caught our eye, and we were researching what other markets out of Boston make the most economic sense for us, and Islip jumps right up on the radar," he said.

To start, PenAir plans to offer two daily departures from the Ronkonkoma airport -- at 8:40 a.m. and at 7:10 p.m. -- but Hall said depending on profitability, the company is open to adding a midday flight in the fall. Two daily flights from Boston to MacArthur will leave Logan at 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

And to attract fliers to fill the Saab 340 34-seat turbo prop, PenAir is advertising a flight at $119 for a one-way ticket to Boston, with a travel time of 70 minutes.

"The whole idea of a fare that's that attractive is to create awareness that we're there, because most people on Long Island aren't going to have ever heard of PenAir before," Hall said.

Robert Mann, a Port Washington-based aviation consultant, said PenAir's quick, relatively inexpensive flight to Boston could catch on, since there's such a strong market for the route.

"Assuming that the timing is reasonable and that's a real fare, then that's a pretty attractive price."

But Mann warned it might be difficult for a fairly obscure airline to create awareness in a different region.

"There's a tall order to be successful as a new entrant, and hopefully they'll be able to do so," he said.

Hall said customers should be able to begin booking flights to and from MacArthur at as early as Saturday.

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