UPDATED: 5/13/08 777's are too large for MacArthur, please note this correction.This morning we had the distinct pleasure of greeting the new Commissioner of Long Island MacArthur Airport (LIMA), Theresa Rizzuto. Her disarmingly modest and self-deprecating manner temporarily masks the display of a deep knowledge of the airline industry, garnered through over two decades of experience. That experience started with slinging eighty pound bags as a ramp service worker for United Airlines (UAL) in 1992. In that day, the petite powerhouse needed to lift twice as many bags as her male counterparts to be taken seriously. After having gained entry to the business through UAL’s diversity program, her hard work and talent drove her up the ranks, eventually supervising UAL’s operations at Newark Airport, in charge of a $30 million dollar budget, and a terminal that served six airlines. She capped her time at UAL with an assignment as hub manager at Dulles International in Washington DC, leading a staff of 1,600. Taking some time off the flight line in 1993, she stepped into her family’s orthotics business in Freeport in the role of Operations VP, before bringing her fashionably-shod feet to LIMA in February of this year.
Her talk opened with a recap of her experience and an expression of delight at coming back to Long Island after her stint in the Garden State, followed up by a description of the economic importance that LIMA has to the Town of Islip and Long Island. The meat of her presentation concerned the plans that she and the Town have to revitalize the airport, which has been underutilized in recent history. Some of her goals are adding carriers, redeveloping the west side of the airport, ( where I once took BOCES Airframe and Powerplant vocational courses, longer ago than I care to remember), renovating the western portion of the main terminal, adding wi-fi to the airport, and marketing LIMA as a more convenient alternative to the Port Authority Airports. Ms. Rizzuto also wants to accomplish these goals while keeping the airport the good neighbor that it is today. She emphasized the necessity of picking the right carriers to partner with, that will be in it for the long haul, and be a true partners, where the destination compliments the carrier.
Once again, the Q and A was lively, and I will summarize and paraphrase here: