STEWART AIRPORT – Stewart
International Airport made history Thursday with the launch of its first
scheduled service by an international carrier.
A Norwegian Air jet arrived with passengers from Edinburgh, Scotland. An excited group of waiting passengers later boarded for the return flight.
It was the first scheduled nonstop transatlantic flight for the airport. It is the first of five routes from Norwegian will operate Stewart. The other routes to Ireland, Northern Ireland and Norway will launch in July.
To commemorate the occasion, officials from New York State and Norwegian Air gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony that was held jointly with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Official ribbon cutting launching the new Norwegian Air service
“This is Stewart International Airport, and this is the first time in the history of our airport that we have scheduled international service here,” said Ed Harrison, the airport’s general manager. “It’s a great day for the airport and the traveling public. We look forward to more destinations in the near future.”
The move is set to boost tourism significantly in Orange County and the Hudson Valley and flight attendance in Stewart. The new service will be “a game changer” for Stewart, said I Love NY director of international marketing Markly Wilson.
“If the service is maintained over the next 12 months it will deliver
approximately 125,000 new visitors, primarily from Scotland and Ireland
with some of them coming from Norway,” Wilson said.
All the flights are relatively inexpensive, with fares start at $99. Passengers on the inaugural flight came from all walks of life to take advantage of the great deals and enjoy a European vacation. A few were unaware of the historic nature of the flight, but it made the event even more memorable.
“We just realized this is the first flight when we got here,” said Patty Rojas, a Washington D.C. resident who came with her husband and three kids. “The kids are so excited.”
Dave Fink, a Ballston Spa resident, also didn’t know he and his wife were a part of history, and said the experience was “interesting.”
Prakash Hirani, who hails from Spain, got lucky with his flight.
“I missed my flight two days back from Newark, and I just booked [this flight] last night,” he said. “$309 is a great deal.”
Donna Prizzi, a flight attendant for Norwegian Air, is excited for the airline’s move to Stewart Airport.
“I feel it’s great for the economy, and it’s going to bring tourism,” Prizzi said. “Also, what’s wonderful is that it’s bringing the ‘international’ back into Stewart International.”
The launch was a long time in the making, according to Norwegian Air’s Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Ramdahl.
“For us, it means growing our network into the U.S.,” Ramdahl said. “We’ve been talking to the Port Authority for a long time about having Stewart [as one of our airports] and we finally got to do it.”