Watch CBS News

Push On To Land Federal Funds To Expand MacArthur Airport

ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Long lines, overbooked flights, the three major airports that serve the Tri-State Area are bursting at the seams.

But there is new plan for a multi-million dollar expansion of MacArthur Airport on Long Island to help relieve city air congestion, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Congestion seems like the inevitable New York flying experience, but is it?

Not if you fly out of MacArthur Airport.

"We arrive one hour before our flight and then we are on our flight," one traveler said.

"It's a beautiful airport. It's easy. When I go to JFK we have to park in kingdom come," another person said.

MOREState Looks At MacArthur Airport In Ronkonkoma As Possible Superfund Site

Islip MacArthur Airport
MacArthur Airport is owned and operated by the town of Islip (credit: Americasroof/Wikimedia Commons)

With only 20 flights per day -- to only 11 destinations -- the airport is often empty. But now there's a push to land major federal funds to more than double MacArthur's capacity with 30 new flights.

Airport improvement money is already in the Federal Aviation Administration budget. Sen. Chuck Schumer wants the agency to earmark $70 million of what he helped secure to expand MacArthur Airport to relieve city airports.

"They are overflowing, and so Islip is a logical place to grow with 3 million people on Long Island and it's not very hard for people in Brooklyn and Queens to commute here," Schumer said.

The money would supplement town and state funds to rebuild baggage areas, gates and a concourse, which are all needed to attract airlines with new destinations.

"San Francisco is one of them, Los Angeles is one of them," Town of Islip Deputy Commissioner Robert Schneider said.

FLASHBACK: Islip Residents Voice Concerns Over Proposed MacArthur Airport Expansion

No runway construction or air traffic control changes are needed for new transcontinental flights, CBS2's Gusoff reported. Train upgrades are also underway.

"That will enable many people form Nassau and Brooklyn and Queens to come directly to the airport by train," Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member Mitch Palley said. "We are working with the county on a new shuttle service from the train to the terminal."

But nearby residents who put up with a small regional airport are worried.

"I live here, and the windows rattle and with the helicopters ... it's disruptive sometimes now. They come in all hours of the night," one person said.

Business travelers, though, are already counting time saved.

"Sometimes it's 90 minutes to get through security, so that's time you're not responding to emails, it's time your not on the phone, it's time your not making money for the company," one person said.

A public hearing will be held before any new construction. However, if the money is secured and the plan approved non-stop West Coast flights could be less than three years away.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.