Islip Town officials celebrated Elite Airways’ inaugural flights serving Long Island MacArthur Airport Friday as a harbinger of future success.
“For once everything is coming together,” said town Supervisor Angie Carpenter as 48 passengers deplaned from a 70-seat Bombardier CRJ-700 that flew in from Melbourne, Florida.
The Portland, Maine-based airline will operate flights between MacArthur and Melbourne, Florida, Portland, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Fridays and Sundays.
Elite has a fleet of 11 Bombardier regional jets and is the third airline to operate out of the town-owned airport in Ronkonkoma, which has struggled to retain airlines and passengers in the past few years.
In February, National Airlines, based in Florida, announced it would offer flights between Islip and San Juan and Aguadilla in Puerto Rico this summer, but soon after the airline announced that it had not yet acquired an aircraft for the service.
In a speech, Kevin Law, the president of the Long Island Association, called MacArthur “an asset that’s good for all Long Islanders” and highlighted state support to build a new customs facility to accomodate international flights.
Melbourne’s mayor, Kathy Meehan, also flew in to celebrate the new links between Florida and Long Island. “I hope to see you all down south this summer,” she said to a group of waiting travelers.
Passengers hailed the direct service to the target cities as a positive direction for MacArthur.
Siobhan Cantwell of Patchogue, on her way to Myrtle Beach, said this was her first time flying Elite and she appreciated the festive atmosphere of the inaugural flight. “Even the staff is all excited, from check-in to the anticipation of the plane getting here,” she said.
Ashley and Jayson Jeffries took the first flight to MacArthur from Melbourne and said the new routes would make their lives easier -- not only do they split time between Melbourne and East Hampton because of Jayson’s job as a golf pro, they’re now traveling with a three-week-old son, Julien.