A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet about to take off...

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet about to take off at MacArthur Airport. (March 29, 2012) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Long Island MacArthur Airport is set to purchase eight brand new Ford Explorers for security and airport operations, interim airport commissioner Terry Hennessey said.

The 2013 sports utility vehicles will replace eight older Explorers, which ranged in model years from 1999 to 2004 and had racked up more than 100,000 miles each, Hennessey said. The town board approved a bid award last week to Van Bortel Ford in East Rochester to purchase the eight for $215,248.

“These are vehicles that are basically used 24/7 for the security folks,” Hennessey said of the SUVs, which required significant repairs last year.

Five of the new Explorers will be paid for by the airport’s passenger facility charge, a fee of $4.50 per passenger boarding at MacArthur that the airline carriers give back to the airport for improvements. Hennessey said either one or two will be paid for through a law enforcement grant that comes from the Suffolk district attorney’s office, and the remainder will be bought with airport funds.

The airport spent more than $28,000 last year in repairs for the eight Explorers, which represent roughly one-fourth of its fleet, Hennessey said. Future repairs were recommended for some of them, including $3,000 to replace the transmission for a 2002 vehicle.

“The maintenance is getting to a point that it’s more cost-effective to get something new instead of paying for repairs,” he said. “The cost of repairs comes from the airport operating budget, and 85 percent of the new cars will be funded.”

The new vehicles will be fully outfitted with security features. Hennessey said they should arrive at the airport in 60 to 90 days.

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