Days after making its pitch to bring JetBlue to Islip's airport, officials at Long Island MacArthur Airport are in a holding pattern, waiting for the Queens-based airline to decide whether it plans to add Suffolk County to its flight path.
JetBlue has not said when it would announce expansion plans, which wouldn't take effect until 2013.
Sharon Jones, a spokesperson for JetBlue, told Patch that the airline continually looks at adding new routes but has nothing official to announce.
Teresa Rizzuto, the airport’s commissioner, said the effort to attract JetBlue to MacArthur gained momentum following her meeting with the airline at a recent aviation industry trade show in Cleveland.
“I have been speaking with JetBlue for the past couple of years,” Rizzuto said. “When I met them recently, they mentioned that the would be adding a new (airport) in the northeast in 2013. In my mind, we are a really strong contender to be that (airport).”
Following that meeting with the airline, she reached out to Sen. Charles Schumer’s office to enlist his help in the effort to secure JetBlue flights at MacArthur.
“Bringing an airline like JetBlue to MacArthur would be a win-win: for JetBlue, who could take advantage of a rapidly expanding market on Long Island and solidify their brand in New York, and for Long Island families and businesses, who would greatly benefit from having more convenient flight options,” said Schumer in a statement.
While JetBlue officials did not reveal what new northeast destinations it is considering adding, there is a set of criteria JetBlue uses to evaluate new markets.
According to information provided to Patch by JetBlue, the airline at any given point evaluates multiple destinations. The timeline for adding a new destination ranges from eight months to three years, which includes analysis, planning and execution.
Included in that process are meetings with local representatives that include tourism industry officials, airport development teams and private stakeholders; analysis of current market traffic and the potential for future growth; operational analysis to ensure aircraft can operate safely and efficiently; and trips to the local region to learn about the local population and culture.
Rizzuto feels that MacArthur would be a natural extension for the airline, adding that the cost to ramp up operations at the airport would be minimal given its close proximity to JetBlue’s New York headquarters.
She also noted that the airline, which currently serves 66 cities, offers numerous flights to Florida, Las Vegas and the Caribbean; destinations popular with Long Island travelers.
The one potential downside to MacArthur’s effort to attract JetBlue is the airline’s presence at five other New York Metropolitan-area airports.
The airline already operates from its hub at John F. Kennedy International Airport and also serves LaGuardia Airport in Queens, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and regional airports north of New York City in Newburgh and White Plains.
But Rizzuto said another New York-area airport for JetBlue would be a positive for the airline and Long Island travelers.
“There are studies that show New York City air travel will grow to 150 million passengers by 2025,” she said. “The city airports are going to be busting even further and airports like MacArthur can help alleviate some of that pressure.”