Newburgh/New Windsor, New York Has New Airline Service and A New Outlook

By: Category: AirlinesAirports Around the World

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A whole lot of “new” has happened north of New York City. European low-cost air carrier Norwegian has launched a new style and brand of service between the United States and Europe. Beginning on Thursday, June 15, 2017, the airline began service between the Stewart International Airport, located in the Mid-Hudson Valley area of New York State and a number of European destinations. Edinburgh, Scotland is the first of five different cities that will be linked directly with Stewart. Looking on the surface, the new airline service at the airport will no doubt cut travel times between the two continents, as travelers who live in the area once faced more an hour’s surface travel in any direction just to arrive at one of the major New York City airports that traditionally have held the keys for European air travel. But dig a bit deeper, and you’ll see some other, possibly huge advantages that local travel and government officials touted during the inaugural ceremonies during the Thursday evening kickoff event. First of all, let’s talk about the service. As a low cost airline, Norwegian has opened the area’s air travel market up to a wider range of fliers who were once priced out of the opportunity to fly, due to high fares. Recently, a trend to use single-aisle narrow-bodied jets like certain Boeing 757 and Airbus A-321 jets by low cost air carriers has added more seats to the trans-Atlantic market, serving additional, non-hub markets. Norwegian will use smaller Boeing 737-800 narrow-body single aisle jets for a short time until another game changer appears. Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 will debut in the trans-Atlantic arena within a few weeks, allowing improved economy and offering seats between city-pairs that haven’t seen intercontinental service before - at prices affordable for many more travelers. The combination of new city-pairs and economically-viable aircraft have brought opportunities for Stewart, and other northeastern U.S. airports such as Providence RI and Hartford/Springfield MA. For Stewart, almost a decade of planning and advertising has finally paid off, as international operations at the airport begin. This long-range plan was described by five speakers at the inaugural event.

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Ed Harrison, the Stewart International Airport General Manager, thanked many of the local and national entities that worked together to allow for international air travel to exist at the airport, including Customs and Border Patrol, the Transportation and Security Administration, the New York State Police, and other organizations.

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County Executive of Orange County, NY Steve Neuhaus mentioned that the three-year old New York Air Show “has changed this airport”, and that attention and the new airline service will add to that success. His office said that “Norwegian’s new service is expected to result in the creation of an estimated 230 jobs per year, $13 million in total wages and $36 million in overall economic activity.”

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Huntley Lawrence, the Director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Aviation Department, spoke about the beginning of the long-range plan to develop Stewart airport nine years ago, and said that $180 million dollars has been spent on developing the facility. The dreams of many during those nine years became realities on Thursday evening.

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Markley Wilson, Director of International Marketing for I Love NY, introduced us to a new way of thinking about the new airline service when he spoke. Much of Norwegian’s business is expected to be connected to tourism for the area. The tourism industry employs 914,000 people both directly and indirectly in New York. In 2016, the state saw two hundred forty three million visitors, generating a $104 billion economic impact. With this new service between Stewart and five different European cities, an estimated 125,000 visitors will pass through Stewart airport in the next year, adding to those numbers. While working the past year with Norwegian, several partnerships have been forged across the entire state, including one with Barrhead Travel, the largest travel company in Scotland. In many ways, Norwegian’s business model of low fares and destinations into smaller markets will help grow demand on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Finally, Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian’s Chief Commercial Officer, spoke about the new service and a little bit about Norwegian’s plans for the future. Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets and their associated crew members will be based at Stewart airport within a year. Mr. Ramdahl said that Stewart was the “perfect airport for the 737 800 and the 737 MAX 8.” Four years ago, Norwegian began Boeing 787 service to New York City’s JFK airport, and their international service between the U.S. and Europe. Their long range plans now expect to double the number of U.S.-based aircraft and crew members each year. Right now, Norwegian is the world’s sixth largest low-cost airline, and the carrier stated it carried 30 million passengers in 2016. With over 150 worldwide destinations, Norwegian operates more than 130 aircraft, with an additional 260 jets of various makes and models on order.

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After the speeches and a ceremonial ribbon cutting, it was time to watch the first jet arrive at the terminal. Arriving more than thirty minutes early this first evening, the Boeing taxied under the arch of an airport fire truck water cannon salute, to the waiting ground crew members. Instead of the jet bridge, passengers were treated to a set of air stairs, and enjoyed a beautiful New York State sunset and comfortable air temperatures. Cakes and cupcakes, complete with 3-D printed chocolate jets, were served.

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With Stewart’s new airline service, a new chapter is being written in air travel and tourism in the eastern part of New York. As Thomas Ramdahl said, Norwegian’s motto is “Everyone should be able to afford to fly”, and Norwegian’s focus on smaller city-pairs that are “the road less travelled” may allow it to become a more heavily used route. This is OK with local officials and employees, especially if it boosts tourism. Stewart is poised to find out how true this is.

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