Another new airline is set to land at Long Island MacArthur Airport, bringing the total number of carriers at the small Ronkonkoma hub to four.
The Islip Town Board is expected to vote Tuesday to approve a contract with Portland, Maine-based Elite Airways, which will begin nonstop jet service to vacation destinations in the Northeast and Southeast sometime in the next two months “with new cities that have never been served from MacArthur,” according to airline President and CEO John Pearsall.
Elite, which became a scheduled air carrier in 2012 after operating for six years as a charter service, has a fleet of 11 Bombardier regional jets, including four 70-seat Bombardier CRJ-700s. The airline flies from its base in Maine to Orlando/Melbourne in Florida, and to Newark Liberty International Airport from Vero Beach and Naples, Florida, according to its website.
“I am thrilled that the Town of Islip is entering into a partnership with Elite Airways,” Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said in a statement. “The addition of Elite to the Long Island MacArthur Airport family will offer both residents and those living in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the opportunity to travel to some of the most desirable vacation destinations along the east coast . . .”
Pearsall and Town of Islip officials declined to make public more details about the service, including what destinations will be offered, saying that information will be revealed at an April 22 airport news conference. But Pearsall mentioned that the airline hopes to add one-stop service to the Caribbean from MacArthur “with a destination to be named here within the month.”
“I think to service the residents of Long Island will be a phenomenal success for Elite Airways,” he said by phone. “We believe that the routes we’re going to be providing for the community will be a tremendous success and we look forward to a long relationship at MacArthur. We are very selective of how we pick where we’re going, and MacArthur just seemed like the best pick.”
Elite is the second airline to announce new service at Ronkonkoma this year, marking a recent reversal of fortunes for the small town-owned airport that has been losing flights and passengers for almost a decade and has lost millions of dollars since 2010.
National Airlines announced in February that it will start offering six weekly nonstop roundtrips to Puerto Rico beginning June 1, and National and Elite will join longtime MacArthur tenants American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. American flies to Philadelphia, and Southwest, which provides the lion’s share of service from MacArthur, has daily flights to Baltimore and four Florida cities.
Pearsall said passengers will be able to buy tickets for the new routes on April 22, the day those destinations are announced. Discounted introductory airfares will be offered, he said, adding that Elite is a pet-friendly airline and that passengers are not charged a ticket change fee and are allowed one free checked bag.