Sunday, November 5, 2017

Norwegian Air sees nothing but blue skies ahead at Stewart International Airport (KSWF)

How important is Norwegian Air’s success to Stewart’s future?

“It’s critical,″ said Huntley Lawrence, the Port Authority’s aviation director. “It’s about proving our concept for growing the airport, about demonstrating what’s viable and possible.”

The concept, in part, reflects the Port Authority’s contention that Stewart’s catchment area – the area from which it can reasonably be expected to attract passengers – extends beyond the Hudson Valley, western Connecticut and northern New Jersey and into the metropolitan region proper.

“I revisited the catchment area when I got here (in 2014) because I thought we were underselling the airport to carriers,″ said Ed Harrison, Stewart’s general manager. “What closed the deal for Norwegian was the bus service, the one-seat ride to New York City at $20 a person and 80 minutes.”

More than 30 percent of Norwegian’s customers traveling to and from Europe have used the Stewart Airport Express in the carrier’s first four months, proving to Harrison’s and Lawrence’s satisfaction that the airport can effectively serve the city.

They expect airlines eager to get a toehold in the New York City market for a fraction of the charges and fees they’d pay at JFK, LaGuardia or Newark will find Stewart a compelling alternative.

George Grieve of Coach USA/Short Line said the bus service, linked to Norwegian’s arrivals and departures, can easily be replicated to serve other carriers.

“It’s a sustainable business model,″ said Grieve. “And, remarkably, it’s one that’s made everybody happy. We’re happy, the Port Authority’s happy, Norwegian’s happy, the customers are happy.”

Grieve said he anticipates ridership will only grow as travelers become more aware of the service, and as Norwegian adds more flights to its schedule. The Port Authority and Norwegian already link to the Stewart Airport Express from their websites, and Short Line is advertising it in Ireland.


Bjorn Kos


Norwegian’s founder and CEO, Bjorn Kos, praised Stewart and the bus service in his first visit in September, saying feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. And, speaking as a world traveler, he declared himself “amazed” at how quick and easy it is to navigate the airport and customs.

Kos said Norwegian will expand its flight schedule at Stewart in 2018 and 2019 as more of the Boeing 737 MAXs it has ordered are delivered, but he declined to identify any new destinations.

Grieve said he’s been told the schedule will be scaled back to 17 flights from 21 a week in November, a common seasonal adjustment, and then increased to 26 or 28 a week in March.

Lawrence said the aviation division has secured a $1.5 million grant to finish the design of a dedicated federal inspection station for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at Stewart. Port Authority commissioners, however, have eliminated funding for the estimated $20 million addition to the terminal from the agency’s capital plan.

The addition would eliminate the current practice of sealing the baggage claim area to create an inspection station when a Norwegian flight arrives and allow international and domestic passengers to be processed at the same time.

The Stewart Airport Commission has lobbied for its construction, saying the workaround will quickly become untenable as passenger service grows.

“After we complete the design, we have to make a business case to commissioners for the money to build it,″ said Lawrence.

“I’m confident we can.”

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.recordonline.com

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