Orange County Partnership - News

2022 Starts Off Great for NY Stewart International Airport

The New Year has started on a very high note for New York Stewart International Airport as a new advocacy group has been formed to help market the merits of traveling and doing business at the New Windsor-based airport and several new international carriers have announced plans to begin service there.


A new coalition has been formed to promote air travel and enhanced passenger service at New York Stewart International Airport, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.


The coalition is headed by Heather Bell, president of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. The group will also include Orange County Partnership President and CEO, Maureen Halahan, and Director of Tourism and Film for Orange County, Amanda Dana.


Bell told Mid Hudson News that the coalition’s main goal is to inform the traveling public on what the airport has to offer. The coalition’s aims are: “to bring together the Hudson Valley businesses, tourism stakeholders, to build awareness of Stewart International Airport, identifying the community support channels for the new and current air service and expand their air travel options at Stewart through active assessment of the ongoing needs of the region,” Bell said.


The Orange County Partnership’s Halahan added, “New York Stewart International Airport’s cargo operations have been a huge success for many years. This coalition will seek to promote Stewart’s air travel services to business and leisure travelers in the Hudson Valley and beyond so that the airport can enhance its position as an economic engine for Orange County and the Hudson Valley region for years to come.”


Two International Carriers to Fly Out of Stewart in 2022


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced on Feb. 1 that low-cost carrier Play Airlines (PLAY) will be launching daily international flights from New York Stewart International Airport to Reykjavik, Iceland starting on June 9.


The Icelandic airline becomes the third carrier to offer international or domestic flights from New York Stewart. In October 2021, Frontier Airlines began service between New York Stewart and three Florida destinations, while Allegiant Air currently serves five domestic markets with non-stop flights from the airport. PLAY will offer connecting flights to other European cities from Reykjavik.


“This is a significant development for New York Stewart International Airport and the region and customers it serves,” said Rick Cotton, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “The addition of PLAY’s international service is important in realizing our post-pandemic vision for New York Stewart as a leading regional provider of both international and domestic air service and as a generator of strong economic growth.”


Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus in a Facebook posting, stated that to celebrate the new service, Play Airlines is offering introductory fares starting at $109 until Feb. 7.


“The arrival of Play Airlines will benefit not only Orange County, but the entire region,” Neuhaus said. “It will also help establish Stewart Airport as a true international destination for travelers again. I am excited that Play has made this important investment in Orange County.”


This is Play Airlines third destination in the United States as flights to Baltimore/Washington will begin in April and service to Boston will commence in May. These three U.S. destinations will open new routes to Iceland, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Brussels, Trondheim, and Gothenburg in Europe in the spring.


Play Airlines stated that the cost of operating at New York Stewart Airport is significantly lower than other airports in New York, making it possible for it to offer the lowest fares between New York and Europe. Due to less air traffic at the airport, PLAY´s aircraft will spend less time taxiing on the ground and in holding patterns, saving fuel, operating expenses and emission.


Play will be the first airline to utilize the airport’s new $37 million, 20,000-square-foot arrivals facility. The airline is expected to offer tickets costing as little as $109 one way between airports.


“After we learned of the economic growth and the attractions in the area surrounding New York Stewart and the benefits the airport has, we did not hesitate and believe that this is a great opportunity. This decision enables us to offer the lowest prices on flights between New York and Europe as we get a good deal being the first airline operating international flights from the airport,” said Birgir Jónsson, CEO of Play Airlines. “Passengers traveling through New York Stewart have many comfortable transportation options from the airport to all directions, not to mention how friendly and efficient it is to use for our passengers. There is also a lot of expectations and excitement for Play’s operations at New York Stewart among the local economy and various stakeholders in the area.”


Play Airlines will operate flights to 25 destinations in the U.S. and Europe in 2022 and will have six new Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft in operation by summer


During Play Airline’s first six months in operation, the airline flew 101,053 passengers on more than 1,000 flights. Considering the challenging environment with the pandemic and the performance of other start-up airlines in Europe and North America, airline officials stated that the 53.2% load factor for the year was “very satisfactory.”


Earlier this month, another international air carrier announced plans for flights out of Stewart Airport.  Norse Atlantic Airways reported it had received approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate flights between New York Stewart International Airport and Norway.


“We are thrilled by the Department of Transportation’s approval of our affordable transatlantic flights. This significant milestone brings Norse one step closer to launching affordable and more environmentally friendly service to customers traveling between Europe and the United States. We appreciate the USDOT's constructive and prompt approach, and we look forward to working with them in the months ahead,” said Norse CEO and Founder Bjørn Tore Larsen. 


Norse has a fleet of 15 modern, fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly Boeing 787 Dreamliners that will serve destinations including New York, Florida, Paris, London and Oslo, among others.


The new Norse Atlantic Airways service at Stewart and at other U.S. airports is expected to begin this spring.


Orange County Partnership President Halahan said of the Norse Atlantic Airlines announcement in a report in Mid-Hudson News, “It will hopefully be the beginning of opening up that European market and the UK when people catch on that it is very easy to fly into Stewart, easy access to New York City. That is what they built the international arrivals building for.”


In 2019, just before the pandemic, the Port Authority introduced a five-point strategic plan for facility growth and expansion and has been actively engaged with numerous potential airline partners, including PLAY. The strategy includes modernizing the air carrier incentive program to attract and retain carriers, partnering with regional and state agencies to grow airport business and drive local economic activity, and entering into an agreement with a best-in-class airport operator – Future Stewart Partners – to oversee operations.