American Airlines announced Monday that it will cease operations at Long...

American Airlines announced Monday that it will cease operations at Long Island MacArthur Airport in September. Credit: AP / Alan Diaz

American Airlines' decision to cancel flights from Long Island MacArthur Airport after Labor Day is "permanent," a spokesman for the Dallas-based carrier said Tuesday in an email to Newsday.

American, citing a "regional pilot shortage," had announced Monday that it planned to cut service to the Ronkonkoma airfield and upstate Ithaca Tompkins International Airport. On Tuesday, the carrier announced the company also planned to cancel flights from Toledo, Ohio, and Dubuque, Iowa.

The announcements followed a Father's Day weekend that saw hundreds of flights nationwide — including one at MacArthur — canceled amid enormous demand that overwhelmed major carriers such as American and Delta.

The immediate and long-term impact on Islip Town-owned MacArthur was unclear. American operates two direct daily flights from MacArthur to Philadelphia, carrying a maximum total of 100 passengers, the town said.

In a statement to Newsday, town officials said they planned to "continue to communicate with American Airlines through these challenging times in the airline industry. American Airlines has been a good business partner to the Long Island community and to Long Island MacArthur Airport ... ."

Beside American, MacArthur is served by Southwest Airlines and discount carriers Frontier and Breeze Airways. Southwest has not seen a pilot shortage and has maintained its normal schedule, a spokesman said.

Frontier said in an email it is "highly committed" to MacArthur. A Breeze spokesman said the airline is "very happy" at the Islip Town airport.

American's departure from Long Island might have startled some frequent flyers, but there are alternatives, some travel professionals said. 

Travelers can still find flights, albeit indirect for some locations, from MacArthur's other carriers, as well as those leaving from Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, said Gina Costello, a travel adviser at Burr Travel in Northport.

“It’s maybe not that much of an inconvenience," she said. "But there are some people who want to go to Florida, that’s maybe going to affect them.”

Willis Orlando, a product operations specialist with online travel booker Scott's Cheap Flights, said MacArthur's other carriers "offer fast, convenient and often dirt-cheap connections to much loved leisure destinations, and have shown little sign of letting up on their consistent push to expand their networks."  

In its statement Monday, American said it planned to "proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel after ... [Sept. 7] to offer alternate arrangements."

"We’re extremely grateful for the care and service our team members provided to our customers ... and are working closely with them during this time," the company said.

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