Long Island MacArthur Airport moves ahead despite pandemic challenges

RONKONKOMA, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — This past year has been an unprecedented challenge across many parts of everyday life, including travel and aviation, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) in Ronkonkoma wasn’t alone in facing the coronavirus. Officials are reflecting on the past year and how the airport responded to keep planes flying while prioritizing health and safety.

“We remain steadfast in helping Long Island withstand, recover, and rebuild from the devastating effects of COVID-19 in 2020,” said Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter. The Town of Islip owns and operates the airport.

“Our top priority was to improve the airport so it could safely continue to serve our community,” Carpenter added. “Immediately, that meant health and wellness for travelers including installing an innovative 24/7 pathogen reduction system, making COVID testing sign-ups easy at the airport, adding antimicrobial films to high touch areas, and more.”

“From the start, we looked for best practices along with innovation,” said MacArthur Airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken. “We also understood that the State of New York was hit hard along with the rest of the country. We faced a rapidly changing set of circumstances and needed to quickly adapt in the best interest of our customers and the community.”

LaRose-Arken continued, “We also understood that the airport plays a key role as an economic engine for Long Island and that jobs – directly and indirectly – connected to our airport were at stake. We committed to stay safe and work hard for our airport and community.”

Looking back at 2020, Carpenter and LaRose-Arken highlighted key airport accomplishments and landmarks:


1. Before the pandemic arrived locally, 2020 started with major recognition. Long Island MacArthur Airport was selected as one of the top small airports in America based on USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. (More from OnSachem News.)


2. In March, the pandemic roared into the region. Hand sanitizer was reintroduced throughout the airport. Communication with customers and employees regarding health and safety practices was immediately deployed.


3. Airlines installed Plexiglas shields at ticket counters and gate podiums to provide further protection for customers and employees.


4. ISP installed and activated a breakthrough 24/7 pathogen reduction system; a first for any U.S. airport, capturing national attention on the Today Show. (More from OnSachem News.)

5. ISP began its 2020 marketing campaign. By year-end, despite a significant reduction in budget versus 2019, the campaign produced over 12 million impressions.


6. ISP was among the first U.S. airports to install a touchless personal protective equipment (PPE) vending machine in the terminal. (More from OnSachem News.)

7. MacArthur Airport became the first airport in the world to use Silver Defender antimicrobial films on high-touch surfaces. (More from OnSachem News.)

8. Frontier Airlines announced new nonstop service from ISP to Las Vegas. (More from OnSachem News.)

9. The $2.8 million construction of Runway 15R/33L and associated Taxiway Edge Lighting replacement began.


10. Construction crews started work on the $8.6 million rehabilitation of 29,000 cubic yards of concrete for the airport’s West Apron. (More from OnSachem News.)

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11. New York State Department of Health began weekly map updates of states requiring quarantine for travel.


12. Long Island MacArthur Airport broke ground on a Ground Vehicle Transportation Center. (More from OnSachem News.)

13. MacArthur Airport and Hawthorne Global Aviation Services held a ribbon-cutting for a state-of-the-art hangar facility – the first hangar improvement in decades.

14. TSA introduced one of the first 3-D imaging scanning equipment in the nation at ISP. (More from OnSachem News.)


15. TSA launched efficient new ID verification at ISP.

16. ISP launched a cooperative marketing campaign to promote Frontier’s Las Vegas service.

17. ISP conducted a full-scale safety drill as required by FAA.

18. Touchless options for food and shopping were introduced, new QR codes made ordering easier for travelers.


19. American Family Care began COVID-19 testing sign-ups at ISP. (More from OnSachem News.)

20. ISP recovered a higher percentage of its pre-COVID scheduled seats than any other medium or small hub airport in New York.

“Throughout this very difficult year, we continued to move forward together with our airport partners, airlines and community,” Carpenter said. “We missed our customers greatly, but continued our efforts knowing what we do affects jobs and economic recovery for the entire region. Challenges remain, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We continue to make judicious investments in our airport by building and using technology to provide the highest standard of customer care. We are committed to our passengers, airlines and Long Island. We believe this is why MacArthur Airport continues to be recognized as one of the best small airports in the U.S. We were just nominated again in 2021, for USAToday’s 10 Best Awards,” said Carpenter. 

The public can vote for ISP once per day until Feb. 1 Visit the online voting page for information about each nominated airport. Or, go directly to the voting page for Long Island MacArthur Airport.


Long Island MacArthur Airport customers enjoy flights on three major U.S. domestic air carriers: American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. Together these carriers currently provide service to 10 cities nonstop, and connect to hundreds of destinations worldwide. The airport serves 1.6 million passengers annually and employs 6,000 people directly and indirectly, with a $16 million annual operating budget and an economic impact of $600 million to the region and local economy, according to the Town of Islip.



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