September 17, 2008

Spirit Airlines Flies From Long Island MacArthur, Blames Fuel Costs

By David Winzelberg

Spirit Airlines has quietly closed its operations at Long Island MacArthur Airport - only three months after Islip officials partied its arrival with grass skirts and fruity drinks - because of skyrocketing fuel costs.

The discount carrier last May began offering two daily flights from MacArthur to its Fort Lauderdale, Fla. hub, with one-way fares as low as $87. But after initial success, fuel costs cut into the profit, according to Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson.

MacArthur Airport Commissioner Teresa Rizzuto said that Long Island's 2.7 million people will never go without commercial air service to key cities because the airlines can't ignore such a powerful economic market. But the names of some of the carriers are going to continue to change at MacArthur, Rizzuto said, as the airline industry is reinventing itself.

"Fuel costs, airport hubs, strategic marketing alliances, labor agreements, and the age of aircraft are all playing a role in determining when and where airlines will operate," Rizzuto said.

Spirit still flies to Florida from LaGuardia Airport for about $150 a round trip. Pinson said the airline would like to return to Long Island when economic conditions improve.

Originally published by David Winzelberg.

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