August 15, 2011

Officials at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY, on Long Island, are nearing completion of the first phase of a two-phase Vision Plan designed to redefine the airport’s role, not only in the current economic environment, but for decades to come.

The focus since the effort began two years ago has been on gathering thoughts and opinions from government officials and the surrounding community. Once complete, a general plan outlining the overall vision and goals for the airport will be developed, before phase two begins with the development of a more defined operating strategy.

“People just want to know what the future of the airport is,” said Michael Geiger, Republic Airport director. “We’re getting input from everyone, and then we’ll come up with a plan that satisfies everybody as much as possible.”

DY Consultants, whom Republic hired to collect information, has received input from hundreds of airport stakeholders during more than 50 public meetings and through scores of questionnaires.

The information-gathering phase ended this week following an open house held at the airport on Aug. 10. Around 80 people attended to share ideas and discuss the various opinions received to date. “It was us saying, ‘This is what we’ve heard from everybody… does anybody have anything more to add?” Geiger said.

The next step is to analyze the feedback and prepare several scenarios on what should be done at the airport. Right now, the biggest task ahead is sorting through the many proposals offered that in some cases contradict one another.

“We’ve pretty much heard everything,” Geiger said. “We want commercial service. We don’t want commercial service. You have to improve the area for business jets. You should not have any more business jets. We need more small planes.”

Despite the differing views, support for the airport remains strong. “Probably the best thing is, nobody who showed up said, ‘Close the airport’,” Geiger said.

As New York’s largest and busiest general aviation facility, the airport is located roughly midway between New York City and eastern Long Island. Much of the business aviation activity there comes from companies located in Farmingdale and surrounding communities.

With two lengthy runways of 6,833 feet and 5,516 feet in length, the airport offers two FBOs. Like many community airports, operations have declined significantly since 2007 – by roughly one-third. However, operations increased last year by 4 percent over 2009 and have continued to rise this year. “July was our best month since 2006,” Geiger said.