By Adina Genn

By adding more nonstop flights, Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip could more than double business air travel, generating more than $1 billion in new revenue each year, according to a new survey.

That’s according to an analysis of an HIA-LI-sponsored survey issued to assess the current and future travel needs of Long Island’s business community. The survey of 504 Long Island businesses was conducted between Aug. 3 and Sept. 6 by Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, a law firm headquartered in Ronkonkoma.

Now, as more people are traveling amid the pandemic, leaders in the business community are broadcasting the analysis as part of an effort to get more airlines to understand the additional revenue opportunity they would have by bringing nonstop flights to MacArthur. The airport is owned and operated by the Town of Islip, and serves about 2 million people a year. Commercial airlines at MacArthur include Southwest, American and Frontier Airlines.

In the recent HIA-LI survey, firms reported annual travel budgets ranging from under $5,000 to more than $20,000. Currently, the firms spend an average of 36.2 percent of their overall travel budgets at MacArthur Airport. This amounts to about $1.9 million out of their average, full-year, travel budgets of $5.2 million, according to the analysis.

The survey found that with more nonstop flights at the airport, businesses travelers would increase travel out of Islip, increasing their budgets at MacArthur to 78.8 percent, a 218 percent increase. That projected annual spending would then increase to $4.1 million.

The survey conductors than applied those results to Long Island’s business sector as a whole. It projected that there were about 61,076 businesses in Suffolk County with travel budgets, and would boost their spending at the airport to as much as $532.2 million, if more nonstop flights were added.  And Nassau County’s estimated businesses with travel budgets would spend up to $530.8 million additional at MacArthur.

Those projections showed the additional $1 billion in revenue, prompting the business community to join in on a call for more nonstop flights.

“This survey clearly demonstrates Long Island MacArthur Airport’s significant untapped value,” HIA-LI President and CEO Terri Alessi-Miceli said in a statement. “Long Island business, government, and civic leaders need to join forces to expand the number of nonstop flights offered by the airport.”

“Long Island MacArthur Airport already stands as an important economic development asset for Long Island,” Richard Humann, president and CEO of H2M architects + engineers and chairperson of the HIA-LI board, said in a statement. “A key goal of this survey is to help the airport build momentum toward expanding its schedule of nonstop offerings, and that’s how we’ll put it to use.”

“The potential revenue that stands to be made from adding more nonstop flights at MacArthur Airport is staggering,” Joe Campolo said in a statement.

Campolo is the immediate past chair of HIA-LI, and managing partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, and a member of the Town of Islip’s Long Island MacArthur Airport Advisory Board.  He said that with his team, he “spearheaded this survey to demonstrate the power and cohesiveness of the Long Island business community. Together, we can effectuate this monumental step forward for our region and economy.”

The airport’s leadership seemed to appreciate the call for more nonstop flights.

“HIA-LI is a tremendous positive force and advocate for economic prosperity for all of Long Island,” Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said in a statement. “They understand that Long Island MacArthur Airport represents an important asset and an economic engine for our entire region both now and in the future.”

That kind of support from the business community is taking place elsewhere in the United States.

“Around the country we see chambers of commerce, convention and visitors’ bureaus, local governments, regional economic development associations, universities, and elected officials coordinating with their airports in a cooperative and unified manner, pledging support and frequently marketing dollars to ensure the success of new airline service and the ‘Fly Local’ use of airport assets,” Airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken said in a statement.

“Business travelers much prefer nonstop air travel,” Bob Isaksen, market executive for business banking at Bank of America and an HIA-LI board member, said in a statement. “We want this survey to send a strong message to airlines about the payoff they’ll receive by deepening their commitment to Long Island MacArthur Airport.”

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