The Islip Town Board officially appointed Robert Schaefer as commissioner of Long Island MacArthur Airport at its meeting Tuesday.
Schaefer, who sat beside longtime friend and acting airport commissioner Terry Hennessey at the meeting, received a round of applause at his appointment, which was announced earlier this month. Hennessey, who was the deputy to former commissioner Teresa Rizzuto, will assume the role of deputy once again.
Schaefer, a Republican who lives in Oakdale, was a former Port Authority staff sergeant who was on that force for 23 years. He became deputy commissioner of MacArthur Airport during Supervisor Peter McGowan’s administration from 2003 to 2006. Schaefer most recently served as chief of staff to Legis. Tom Barraga (R-West Islip), and some local Democrats have decried his appointment as a political favor.
But Supervisor Tom Croci, also a Republican, said earlier this month Schaefer was chosen because of his prior experience at the airport during a time when MacArthur was home to more airlines and had close to 50 flights a day. The airport currently has 23 flights a day.
“I had to go with the individual who had a proven track record of both attracting and retaining business at MacArthur, and developing partnerships with the airlines,” Croci said, adding that Schaefer and his team were integral to Southwest Airlines’ major expansion at MacArthur in 2004.
Schaefer said he’s excited to officially start work, adding that he has been at the airport multiple times and has been reaching out to his contacts in the aviation industry.
Schaefer will start Monday and will be paid $101,000 annually.