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Obama Visit Friday Will Snag Flights At Westchester County Airport

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — When many New Yorkers are heading out of town for Labor Day weekend, President Barack Obama is heading not to the city, but to Westchester County for a pair of events.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, Obama is first set to visit Purchase for a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, followed by a trip to New Rochelle for another smaller, roundtable event.

As a result, the Westchester County Airport in White Plains – known as the easiest airport in the area – will become difficult at the start of Labor Day weekend. Air Force One will land at the airport on Friday, and when the president moves, the rest of us do not.

The schedule for Obama’s flight is only approximate.

“If he decides to wants to talk to the press a little longer, or talk to dignitaries on the airport grounds, we can’t control that,” said airport manager Peter Sherer.

The president will be using the airport as a kind of base as he attends meetings in Westchester and Rhode Island. While he is physically at the airport, it will be completely closed, and even when he is not, private jets using the airport will be severely restricted.

Million Air private aviation service owner Bill Weaver was not pleased.

“This is, you know, one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, and this is the weekend he has to do this?” Weaver said. “It’s an inconvenience for a lot of people, and they’re not happy.”

Obama’s trips to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Hamptons have been moved up to avoid the crunch.

Private jet passenger Charles Long said he is escaping to the Carolinas just in time.

“It would be a real big pain in the butt,” Long said. “I am very, very glad I’m missing it, yes.”

Outbound planes will be fully screened before takeoff at the airport, while incoming private planes will have to land at MacArthur Airport on Long Island, or Stewart International Airport in Orange County, to be cleared into White Plains.

The Westchester County Airport expects planes to stack up on the ground. But short of changing airports at this late date, airport officials said there is not much to be done about it.

“Have a smile on your face, have a drink in the bar, and be prepared to wait,” Sherer said.

The New York State Thruway Authority and Department of Transportation also warned that some roads will be intermittently closed in Westchester County as the presidential motorcade passes through on Friday.

Between 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., there will be brief intermittent closures on Interstate 684 between Purchase and Armonk, I-287 between White Plains and Port Chester, and I-95 between Pelham and the Connecticut state line, officials said.

Between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., intermittent road closures are expected again on I-684 between Purchase and Armonk, and I-287 and I-87 between the Tappan Zee Bridge and Port Chester.

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