By Joe Iorio, Media Relations Staff
More than a decade ago, as congestion at the three major airports operated by the Port Authority continued to grow, agency officials searched for ways to expand the Port’s airport capacity while better serving passengers throughout the New York-New Jersey region.
The PA set its sights on Stewart International Airport in upstate Newburgh, about an hour north of New York City. The decision to invest in Stewart was about the future of travel for the region and giving passengers better cost and convenience options in booking their flights.
Last week, the Port Authority celebrated the 10th anniversary of its stewardship of the airport. Over the past decade, the PA has invested more than $181 million as part of a 10-year capital improvement plan, leading to the rehabilitation of runways, terminal upgrades, new amenities and expansion of parking lots and airline services.
“It’s been quite a journey,” said Stewart General Manager Ed Harrison, who followed Diannae Ehler, the first Stewart GM after the acquisition, and later Richard Heslin. “As we continue to make improvements to the facility, and add airlines, routes and destinations, more passengers will be able to take advantage of these growing travel opportunities.”
Acquiring Stewart was an unusual investment for the Port Authority. It was located well outside the agency’s Port District, which is defined as 25 miles or less from the Statue of Liberty. But, as then-Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia noted in a recent newspaper article marking the 10th anniversary, the time was right for thinking outside the box.
“The decision to invest in Stewart was fundamentally a decision about the future, about planning not just for the next business cycle but for the next century,” Coscia told the Times Herald-Record.
The investment has been a strong economic generator for the Hudson Valley, as more than half of the awarded construction projects have gone to local firms and contractors, creating $450 million in economic activity and about 2,700 jobs.
About 400,000 passengers are expected to pass through Stewart this year. Domestic and international service has risen, notably in an arrangement with Norwegian Air. In June 2017, the airline partnered with Stewart to offer regularly scheduled international service to destinations in Scotland, Norway, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Above: Norwegian Air’s first flight arrives at Stewart. (Courtesy of Rudy King)
Coach USA is operating ‘Stewart Express,’ a bus service that operates four times daily between Stewart and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The schedule is timed to Norwegian’s arrivals and departures, with a fare of $20 each way.
Since 2015, the airport has been hosting the annual New York Air Show, featuring some of the nation’s top civilian and military air show performers. This year’s event was showcased by the Navy’ s “Blue Angels.” Next year, the show will feature the Air Force “Thunderbirds.” The two-day spectacle attracts thousands of fans and contributes $5.5 million to the local economy each year.
With the advent of the New York Air Show, Norwegian Air’s service to Europe, and the addition by Allegiant Air of flights to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and two new destinations in Florida, Stewart’s ascent continues.
“The Port Authority has an unwavering commitment to Stewart International and will continue to expand in both business and air service development,” said Port Authority Director of Aviation Huntley Lawrence. “We look forward to having more travelers choose Stewart as their airport.”
To learn more about the travel experience and services at Stewart International Airport, go to: http://www.panynj.gov/airports/stewart