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Republic Airport Commission Meeting: Good News on the Horizon

A spike in activity seems to be returning to Farmingdale’s Republic Airport with the recent news that numbers in total operations are up in all categories (landings, passenger flights and touch & go’s) as compared with last year. During their recent bi-monthly meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 13, airport commission officials announced 4,894 aircraft landings in July, a jump from 4,300 one year ago. Also, the report for August indicated 5,138 aircraft landings this year as opposed to 4,399 during 2009.

In recent years, total operations (take-offs and landings) had been on a steady decline at the facility for some time. In 2004, there were 160,000 total operations, but the airport recorded only 101,000 in 2009. A spike in fuel costs and the struggling economy have been attributed as the primary causes for the decrease.

Not all good news comes from an increase in numbers, however, as evidenced by the surprising drop in noise complaints the airport has received. Eighteen total complaints were reported in July, down from 32 during the same span last year, and August continued the trend noting only seven complaints, down from 16 just one year ago. This bodes well for an airport that has seen operations increase while complaints are going down.

Complaints over noise remain a gray area for airport officials because sometimes it is hard to decipher the specific plane for each reported occurrence.  

“If the caller says it happened at a specific time, we’ll look to see if there’s any aircraft that could be from our airport; if there’s not then we report it as unknown,” said Shelly LaRose-Arkin, Airport Manager.

This year’s total revenues (April through August) stand at $1,537,713 but write-offs on two companies that went bankrupt seven years ago will reduce the net profit by $44,929. At this time last year, airport revenue was $1,534,115. Landings and fuel flowage fees are on the rise for 2010 but miscellaneous and special events revenues are down, as indicated by Airport Director Michael Geiger.

“Overall our income has been down some mostly because we haven’t gotten the specialty type things coming in here like movie shoots, but we’ve spent less money,” said Geiger. “So, on the whole we’re actually ahead of where we budgeted.”

The film industry has been known to visit Farmingdale Republic Airport, forking over funds to use the facility as a shooting location for the movie Salt and the HBO series Boardwalk Empire in 2009.

Another topic that was discussed during this meeting centered on the future endeavors of the facility and whether the airport plans to partake in activities regarding cargo, either for storing or intake capacities. As this is a big concern for local residents who worry that they may soon be inundated with bigger planes and the noise they bring, Chairman Frank Nocerino made it a point to ease people’s minds by reiterating the general consensus shared by his peers.

“We did have inquiries about having cargo; we tried an experiment one Christmas for UPS that didn’t work,” said Nocerino. “FedEx has tried to come in, but this commission has not entertained it [the idea].”

One of the few members of the community in attendance, Wally D’Amato, is acting president for the Nassau Shore Civic Association in Massapequa, representing over 800 dues paying members.

“It’s a great thing for all the communities if they want information to be at the meetings”, he told the Observer.

D’Amato has actively frequented these meetings for the last few years. When asked about the airport possibly making major changes and increasing traffic, he said,  

“Being at the meetings and talking with them [the commissioners] and seeing what’s going on, they’re not going to do it as far as I know; it’s just a small airport, that’s all it is.”

The next Republic Airport Commission open for public attendance will be on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in the second floor conference room of the main terminal at 7150 Republic Airport in Farmingdale. Items on the agenda to be discussed are: operations, complaint, and financial reports, safety projects, redevelopment plans, and vision plan updates. For additional information call (631) 752-7707.

Additionally, the Long Island Chapter of the Air Force Association, in conjunction with the airport, will be holding its annual Pearl Harbor Ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at the American Air Power Museum, located at 1230 New Highway Road.