Norwegian Makes a Risky Choice to Serve New York City Through Stewart International Airport

Norwegian, SWF - Newburgh/Stewart

Are you watching what Norwegian is up to these days? You should be. The airline seems to be throwing darts all over a world map, hoping something is going to stick. Oh sure, there’s the hare-brained scheme to start flying within Argentina, but today I want to talk about something closer to home. Norwegian is making a risky bet that it can serve New York via a little-used airport more than 60 miles north of Manhattan. (It’s also planning the same alternate airport strategy in Boston, likely with Providence.) You might assume I’d be skeptical that this would work. You’d be right.

On the heels of Norwegian getting its Irish subsidiary approved, it has decided the time is ripe to expand in the US. In the middle of next year, it gets its first 737MAX aircraft, and those airplanes will be able to quite capably fly from the Northeast US over to Western Europe. It appears that the first base for this operation in the US will be Stewart International Airport. Chances are you’ve never heard of Stewart, because for 99 percent of the people flying to/from New York City, that’s not even in the consideration set.

At right, you can see a map of most the airports that try to serve New York City. For those not familiar with the geography, Manhattan New York City Airportsis that piece of land just to the left of LaGuardia, wedged between the Hudson and East Rivers. Of course you know the big 3 airports in the region – Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK. They surround Manhattan well and serve New Jersey, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island respectively. But as we all know, these are overcrowded airports and there’s not much room for new entry.

So where is an airline with grand plans supposed to go? There is Islip way out east on Long Island (and not on this map). Southwest gave that airport a brief renaissance, but the airline cut back as it gained access to the main airports in town. Westchester up to the north is in a fantastic spot to serve the wealthy Westchester County area, but it’s highly-restricted with a relatively short runway. Looking at this landscape, Norwegian has apparently decided that Stewart is the answer.

Stewart has been run by the Port Authority for the last decade, the group that (tries) to run JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. (It also runs Atlantic City and Teterboro, in case you were interested.) The airport itself has very little service today with American running three a day to Philly, Delta sending two a day to Detroit, JetBlue putting one a day each into Ft Lauderdale and Orlando, and Allegiant throwing a couple airplanes a week down south as well. That’s it.

This very limited amount of service is probably because it’s really not located very well. It lies just to the west of the Hudson River, near the intersection of Interstates 84 and 87. The primary catchment is likely to be northern New Jersey, parts of New York north of New York City, and likely some of Connecticut, but it’s the first choice for very few people. From Manhattan, it’s over 60 miles away, and that involves tolls and bridges.

As if that’s not bad enough, there’s the public transit problem. There are a couple of Metro-North lines that run sort-of-close to the airport. The Port Jervis line goes down to Hoboken, just across from Manhattan, but a) Hoboken is NOT Manhattan (neither is Secaucus right before it) and b) you still need to take a cab for a few miles to get from Stewart to the station. The Hudson line goes right into Grand Central in Manhattan, but it not only takes an hour and a half, it’s a 20 minute taxi ride (or longer bus ride) to get from Stewart to the station. Options are terrible.

With this information, why on Earth does Norwegian think this is a good place from which to launch Transatlantic service? I can think of three things it has going for it.

  1. The runway is nearly 12,000 feet long. It’s shorter for landings, but it’s still long enough for Europe runs.
  2. Customs and immigration already exists at the airport, though the terminal expansion to properly house it permanently is still not done.
  3. It’s cheap for the airline to operate there.

Ok, so that’s something. And it sounds a lot like why, say, Ryanair decided to pretend Hahn Airport was in Frankfurt despite it being very far away. At Hahn, Ryanair was able to bring in low fares and pull people from Frankfurt (and elsewhere) to use the airport. Norwegian probably thinks it can do the same thing, but the dynamics are different here.

Frankfurt had no low-cost service, so it was an easy price-based sell for Ryanair to come in and pull people away. The same can’t be said for NYC airports. Over the Atlantic, there isn’t a ton of low cost competition in general, but New York has a presence from nearly all the ones that exist (Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Air Europa, Icelandair, Meridiana, Thomnas Cook, XL Airways France, etc.)

On top of that, the legacy airlines very often provide low fare transportation, especially outside of the summer peak. Over the weekend, I looked at JFK to London in March and saw fares just over $500 roundtrip with taxes making up about $200 of that. Now, Norwegian says it can operate its flights for $300 to $350 roundtrip all-in. Presumably that won’t include a bag or food or much else. It’ll have a shuttle bus service to get people between New York City and Stewart, but I assume that’ll cost extra as well. In the end, is there enough meat on the bone to get people to schlep out to Stewart? Can people save enough money to make it worth it?

Maybe there is just enough, barring competitive response, but do you really think the legacy airlines are going to take this lying down? Norwegian is said to be planning 21 flights a week from Stewart to the British Isles and Norway. British Airways has already decided to aggressively compete with Norwegian over the Atlantic by adding flights on unlikely routes like London to Oakland. So might BA go to Stewart and sit on top of Norwegian? I doubt it. I don’t think it’s necessary.

BA, or any other traditional airline, just needs to be willing to keep prices low enough from JFK or Newark to prevent anyone from needing to head up to Stewart to get a deal. Outside of summer, there’s no reason to think airlines couldn’t easily be competitive if they so chose. I imagine they will. (Get ready for a low fare party, New York.) That would leave only those people who actually find Stewart to be more convenient to want to stick with BA Norwegian. That’s not likely a huge number of people…unless no other airline flies the route nonstop.

Norwegian does have smaller airplanes, so it can go to smaller places. Maybe an Allegiant-style play is what we’re going to see. The person in Sioux Falls, SD might not like flying Allegiant, but sure enough Allegiant is the only airline flying nonstop to Vegas and the price is good. If Norwegian does fly to places like Cork, which it has said, then those people flying to Cork are going to drive to Stewart and fly Norwegian since no other nonstop is available.

I’m not sure how many small-city Europe routes can support even a 737 out of New York City, but this might help at least something to work… unless Aer Lingus opens up that Cork hub.

Stewart has a lot going against it, so creativity is going to be extremely important to find a niche that works. I’m not sure one exists, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. Let’s see it, Norwegian.

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90 comments on “Norwegian Makes a Risky Choice to Serve New York City Through Stewart International Airport

  1. Maybe the 737 would work in Stewart, since it is a bit smaller.

    Do you think PVD could work more since the airport has a train direct to BOS (and many stops in the middle? Also, will they move the 787 services to PVD from BOS?

    1. Joe – I think PVD is a very interesting place, much more so than Stewart. Because from Providence you can draw locally as well as from Hartford and up into Boston. Boston has fewer Transatlantic flight destinations so there is more opportunity for smaller cities to gain service with a 737. Now, I don’t know if it’ll actually work. Condor’s failure in Providence isn’t a good sign. But that was a bigger airplane as well.

    2. I live in Providence and I am continually shocked by how little service we have (domestic nothing farther west than Chicago) yes we’re a small city but we can easily draw people from Boston, I even think PVD can be preferrable to BOS for the people who live in the southwest suburbs of Boston (Norwood, Dedham, Canton, Foxborough) since it’s a lot easier to drive down 95 than fight traffic to Logan. I’m really hoping that Norwegian will choose PVD over PSM!

  2. It’s been years since I’ve flown into SWF so it might no longer be the case, but the airport used to be great for military plane spotting C-5s, C-17s, and the like.

    Maybe Norwegian is into that sort of thing?

  3. Traffic is so heinous, crowds and delays are so bad at New York’s big three airports, that the travel time to/from Stewart might be less of an issue if Norwegian can sell it as a better experience that isn’t that much of a sacrifice.

    But a transportation issue you haven’t discussed is the overwhelming dependence on cabs and livery car services to/from the airports in New York. New Yorkers don’t have cars. Taxis and black cars (and now Uber, et al) are a primary way of going between Manhattan (and the other boroughs) and the airports. A car service from Manhattan to JFK is $50-75 plus tolls and tip. The other airports are about the same. But a car service to Stewart is likely to be significantly more, and yellow cabs won’t even consider the trip. A bus shuttle might sound like a good idea, but it’s a lot to pin a plan on. Norwegian will have a hard time selling a flight that’s a hundred dollars less if the transportation to get there wipes out the savings.

    Just my opinion.

    1. New Yorkers may not have cars, but commuters from New Jersey or Connecticut do, and it might be a lot more convenient (faster, cheaper, …) for them to go there than to reach JFK, where, unless it has really picked up in Newark recently, most of the Transatlantic service is located !

  4. Cranky,

    Frankly, what’s 60 miles away when you’ve flown (or are going to fly) for 7-8 hours ?

    You’ve chosen Hahn airport, but their numbers suggest (pax have decreased by almost 40% in a few years) that it’s not a success.
    In France, Beauvais (85 km (53 mi)) from Paris, or a 75 minutes by bus from Porte Maillot (hardly the city center but someplace where you can take the metro), is in a similar situation, yet Ryanair, Wizzair and a few small others still attracted 4,3 Millions passengers in 2015, with a spectacular growth rate year after year (doubling in 8 years).
    The mix of cheap leisure destinations for locals and visitors, point to point services (mostly to eastern Europe), very affordable long term parking and a coach link to Paris operated by the airport have done the trick.

    So I wouldn’t bet against Norwegian on that one if :
    – they can market a reliable coach transportation option to NYC for tourists (or, even more original, make it a fast boat ride on the Hudson and include the Statue in the loop !)
    – they can offer a good mix of leisure and point to point destination at a reasonnable price.

    After all, if Icelandair can lure passengers with a one stop option and cheaper prices, why couldn’t Norwegian succeed here ? After all, they only need 500 persons per day to fill their 3 planes !!!…

    1. Chris – Right, because as low cost carriers grow up and realize they can serve the big city airports, they do it. The revenue bump is generally always worth it, despite increased costs. Southwest has done the same thing in the US. The reason to go to a secondary airport is because you can’t get into a primary. That’s been a problem in places like Paris and Frankfurt, and it’ll be a problem in NYC airports.

      The Icelandair example is a bit different in that 1) some people want to stop in Iceland, 2) it has different flight times available than legacy airlines, and 3) it connects people into many destinations in Europe. Norwegian wouldn’t have any of that, it would be doing nonstops in markets where others will probably not give an inch.

  5. As a former NY-er I would never give Stewart consideration. I was very surprised to hear it’s under consideration. PANYNJ and Norwegian will have to come up with something to make the trek easier with public transit.

    I would need to save at least $200 to make it worth avoiding JFK and Norwegian is already offering $139 fares from there.

    I have to think there are more attractive cities that would come with attractive packages to lure a European carrier before Stewart. Maybe along the lines of San Diego, St Louis, Austin, Kansas City or Mesa (a la Allegiant)?

      1. Could they use the 787s? I also wonder why they don’t go in on MSP. Tons of people here travel to Norway and Sweden, seems like it would be a decent route. Iceland air has added year round service to MSP this winter.

      2. Correct. I was referencing Norwegian’s 787s for these routes, which would theoretically put 737s on existing east coast routes.

  6. The catchment is larger than you might think. Albany is only 90 minutes away from Stewart and convenient to get to for them. Also Scranton/Wilkes Barre is 90 minutes away as well. These areas are used to traveling between 2 and 3 hours to get to an international flight. That would put its catchment probably close to a million people or so. It’s worth seeing if this could be successful. Especially when its not my money. Lots of people do inconvenient things to save a couple hundred bucks. I could see this seasonally successful in the summer, especially if they are able to lock in some wholesaler contracts with tour groups.

    1. I’m from the Albany area and if I had an alternative to the three Metro airports, I’d leap at it. If it were a little more expensive, I’d still leap at it. Anything to avoid driving to Newark or JFK.

  7. First off, I am surprised that Brett didn’t make a Godzilla-style map illustration for this one. Because if Narita involves going past the home of Godzilla, this is far, far worse. Also, you forgot to include Islip.

    Seriously though, I just don’t see this working. The distance is just too far for all but the most dedicated travelers from the NYC metro area, especially with relatively cheap fares from JFK.

    If Norwegian offers cheap coach buses from, say, Manhattan, Westchester County, Fairfield County, and Northern NJ, that will help, but it still won’t overcome the, “Where the F!@& is Newburgh?” issue without heavy marketing.

    If Norwegian were flying into, say, HPN, Islip, New Haven, or Teterboro (ignoring how feasible it would be), I could see this working, but IMHO SWF is just too far from the city. Heck, even Hartford might be a better option, as that would put most of CT in a reasonable catchment area.

    1. Kilroy – I really missed that opportunity, didn’t I? Not sure what the monster would be. Maybe a dirty, smelly Elmo venturing out from his perch in Times Square to scare people going north to Stewart.

      I didn’t forget Islip. It’s not on the map, but it’s in the post.

      1. No need to invent anything : it already exists. Don’t you have to pass by Sleepy Hollow and its Headless Horseman on the way to Stewart??? !!! :-)

      2. If you really wanted an image of a monster that would resonate with the NYC suburban crowd, you could have just put a picture of an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man about halfway between EWR and SWF, a dozen miles inland from the west bank of the Hudson.

        There are some people who are very concerned about the Hasidim getting enough of a voting bloc to control their villages and to gut the local schools, as happened in Monsey. One town passed an ordinance forbidding businesses from being open on Sundays (because Saturday = Sabbath) to try to keep the Hasidim out… When the conflict between cultures gets written up more than once in the New York Times, it’s pretty bad.

    2. Godzilla… ??

      For those of us who missed it, but still laugh at it…

      What is the ‘back story’ on Godzilla at Narita, Haneda, etc. ??

      First off, I am surprised that Brett didn’t make a Godzilla-style map illustration for this one. Because if Narita involves going past the home of Godzilla, this is far, far worse.

      1. Peter – I don’t think there’s much of a backstory. I was just trying to explain how Narita was much further from Tokyo than Haneda and I thought I’d exaggerate it by putting godzilla in between. For some reason, it just kept making me laugh, so I use the graphic every time.

        1. and now we know the real reason why NW hubbed in Narita. They just tell us its about some pesky airport rules.

          Go GO GODZILLA!

      2. To add to what Cranky says below, search for Narita in this blog and the image will show up in most of the relevant posts. Of all of Cranky’s photo illustrations, the “Home of Godzilla” one is pretty iconic for the blog, and has become a bit of a recurring inside joke among long time readers of the blog.

  8. I feel like once or twice a year there is a discussion about the NYC area airports and some grand scheme to fix it with some far flung airport and some type of ground transportation to access it. It’ll never work, even with low fares, and for an example one just needs to look north to Montreal. Mirabel was built way north of the city and was supposed to resolve all the issues of Dorval. Instead the public balked at the distance and never embraced it. Now it’s a cargo only airport. Norwegian can try to force something here but I’m guessing the public will vote with their loyalty to the nearby airports. Now if the PANYNJ were to shut down the nearby airports and fully embrace a mega-hub in the sticks….now that could be interesting, but it’ll never happen.

  9. As a resident of Westchester, something like this is a long time coming. I’ve been thinking about expansion at Stewart for years, since even the metro area north of NYC has a desire for another airport serving other cities. HPN just doesn’t get it done since expansion there isn’t possible. I hope this works because maybe it brings more airlines and routes to Stewart in the future. The thing that will make this work is a proper extension of Metro North to Stewart, but who thinks that will ever happen?

    1. Ben – I don’t know where you live in Westchester, but from Westchester airport itself, it’s 65 miles and just over an hour to Stewart. From there to JFK it’s 35 miles and probably no worse time-wise even if there’s traffic. So if JFK has a lot more nonstops to a lot more places for the same price, would you really go to Stewart?

      1. I tend to take the tolls into account and the horrendous traffic. If Stewart offers something I can use then I will use it, otherwise into the city and suffer the tolls and traffic. I like the choice.

  10. Good luck to them. But like Allegiant does, once passenger loads start to drop, they’ll will move on.

  11. I would rather drive 60 miles to a non busy airport (or take an UBER) than wait in long immigration lines, wait for my bags for an hour, and then get stuck in city traffic leaving the airport. This is why Oakland is better than SFO, Munich is better than Frankfort, etc. And, as much as I hate to say this, I am sick of union pilots in the EU staging one day strikes that wreck havoc with plans made in advance for meetings. Give me a regional airport, a non stop flight, extra leg room and no crowds at arrival and I could try it.

    Just my opinion.

  12. My perspective as a former Noo Yawker is that Stewart would not have worked for me personally since I lived on 30th Street in Midtown without a car. But if you live in the northern suburbs on either side of the Hudson, or near ALB, Stewart is worth considering. So this might work, just not for City residents.

  13. The super-long runway shouldn’t really be a factor. PVD is way shorter and it is still in consideration (arguably in the lead) for the other location.

    SWF is a mess for most of the potential passengers for all the reasons you’ve noted. Which is not to say I won’t give it a try when service starts. But that’s really just for the sake of doing it, not because I think it is a good idea.

    1. Wandering Aramean – Fair enough. I was thinking more as opposed to Islip which is even a bit shorter than Providence, but they can still probably launch the flights they need. As you can see, I was digging deep to find positives.

  14. SWF is out in the middle of the trees. It’s a great place to fly in if you want to visit Dutchess County, NY, the northwestern corner of NJ, or the Delaware Water Gap, but it really has no utility for NYC or any other really populated area except for northern Westchester County, NY or northern Fairfield County, CT (Danbury).

    1. Disagree. I lived in the highly populated Rockland County and later Ulster County and flew out of Stewart on domestic flights many times. I actually think it is a brilliant choice to gather up all the travelers in the Hudson Valley/Catskill region, many of whom are from the city and have second homes in the area and would prefer Stewart to JFK or Newark.

  15. CF,

    You sure do make things about which I could not care less so interesting and worth my time reading. You do this day-in, day-out , and I give a big tip of the hat to you! Keep up the good work!

    As to the subject here, whether something works or not, should we get too concerned. Skeptical, OK.

    I have to admit that I am become much, much more laissez-faire on these aviation matters. If Norwegian wants to operate from Trondheim to Teterboro, I don’t care, well, except for:

    Are they qualified to run an airline? [Like we do about Presidents, whatever!]
    Are they qualified to run it safely? [Our call, not the Norwegians.]
    Will they meet our labor laws? [Like this is simple, I know.]

    Let them pick whatever airport(s) they want but if there isn’t adequate infrastructure there, that’s their problem. Perrsuade the locals to put it in and pay for It, or do it all yourself. [Simple, huh?]

    And, the US-flag competition, they can do whateve they want to, and we know they will do whatever the can–legally, we-hope–to kill you off (economically, I mean). [Luv you, US guys and gals, and I know, U.S national defense contingency considerations, but, with code-share everywhere, is this really an issue anymore?]

    Wonder how all of this is going to work out/change beginning a month from tomorrow! DOT Secretary F. Smith? Kelleher? Branson? Maybe even Bob Crandall? But, think of all the CF posts that will be there for us to read!

  16. Stewart is not exactly in the middle of nowhere. Many travelers live in the Hudson Valley/Catskill region and would prefer going there rather than into the city or up to Albany.

  17. SWF doesn’t even come up if you use the ‘NYC’ all New York airports code. That only matches JFK/LGA/EWR/HPN.

    1. To add to this, Islip and New Haven would be closer to NYC than SWF as well. Really, I think the only reason SWF gets any mention at all is because every couple years an intern or consultant at the Port Authority decides to make noise about SWF being a decent reliever airport, albeit one that so far has had little demand.

  18. Whatever airport Norwegian uses in the NE has to pull enough people to make flights work but they must have destinations in Europe that generate enough local demand. Cork and the rest of Ireland might be fine in the summer but Norwegian or any other transatlantic low fare airline has to have a very large market on one end or the other (or both) or feed for connections on one end or the other (which most European LCCs do not do). Narrowbody transatlantic ops will work in the summer when fares are high but it is not hard to find airfares in the winter well below levels that Norwegian can offer.

    The advantage with narrowbody transatlantic operations is that they can move plans back and forth between transatlantic and intra-European routes. Thus, Norwegian can make Stewart work for a few months a year based on their present network. Year round operations more than a few flights per week to all destinations a 737MAX can fly seem like more than a stretch.

    The competitive implications impact carriers like JetBlue which has said they want to build transatlantic narrowbody operations from Boston. Not only will existing legacy carriers that have large hubs and widebody aircraft be already geared up to maintain their own share against Norwegian but legacy carriers will also have larger hubs on both sides of the Atlantic that can deliver more passengers to their own flights – the model JetBlue intends to use.

    Norwegian will be competing for point to point passengers from secondary airports while JetBlue will be trying to compete with a more hub-like model from hubs where legacy carriers are plentiful – but both will be competing against legacy carriers that are capable of adding lots of additional widebody capacity across the Atlantic now if that is what they believe is necessary to maintain share.

    I’m just not so sure that Norwegian’s model will be as successful in the US as it has been in Europe, in large part because US airports have been more open to competition and US carriers are much more accustomed to a highly competitive environment.

  19. British Isles? Really? That phrase hasn’t been true in almost 100 years.

    “The term British Isles is controversial in Ireland, where there are objections to its usage due to the association of the word British with Ireland. The Government of Ireland does not recognise or use the term and its embassy in London discourages its use. As a result, Britain and Ireland is used as an alternative description,”

    1. “British” in this phrase is a geographical term, rather that a political one. So Eire’s independence doesn’t alter its utility, even if it’s understandably sensitive due to the overlapping geographic and political meanings. And it’s still used by the UK part of the Isles’ population (i.e. the vast majority)

  20. I guess this is great for the residents of Poughkeepsie–all 300 of them that go to the UK each year. Personally I can’t wait until BA/AA decides to dump more capacity into JFK and EWR to ensure this is a total failure. My expectation is that BA will size up (or “upguage” as they say these days) a few non-peak departures to Y-heavier 747 (as opposed to the other two versions with less than 300 seats) and fire sell some seats. Even if you live in Westchester or Fairfield County, Conn, going to JFK provides better options; never mind asking someone from the City to schlep up to Stewart. If the price is in the ballpark, forget about it.

  21. Have you actually flown out of Stewart airport? It’s a fantastic airport. Extremely convenient for the Hudson Valley, Albany, northern New Jersey and Westchester. The customer service is second to none, the parking is the cheapest I’ve ever seen at an airport and it’s two minutes to walk from parking to the terminal. As a flyer from Glasgow to New York your options are horrible. I’d rather fly to SWF from Glasgow than EWR. My friends in Scotland are excited for this service to begin. Oh and did you know one of the biggest tourist attractions for New York is Woodbury Commons outlets? It’s 12 miles from Stewart airport and Legoland being built is 14 miles. Stop being so cranky and give Stewart a try.

  22. Waiting time and security check for a flight will be a lot shorter. Great amount of time savings. As someone who has often flown internationally out of the NYC airports and often domestically out of Stewart, I’m thrilled that there will be an international flight from Stewart. Parking, as mentioned, is convenient and costs less than NYC airports, close access to major highways including NYS Thruway, calmer airport environment. Not far to get to bus station and take bus to NYC and other locations or take bus to Beacon to catch train to NYC and other locations.

    Need to give it all chance. If it doesn’t work out for Norwegian, they will make decision about the future.

  23. Because it is TINY … Stewart is so damn convenient! I do NOT think NYC is the actual target market. As others have indicated.. The market is probably a 80 mile radius around Albany, The joke is, it is WAY easier for someone from Northern NJ to drive to Stewart (a traffic-free hour) with close to no parking costs than to battle the LIE to JFK.

    I agree that a shuttle service might be needed to enhance. I agree a river ferry would be fabulous. Ironically, they could schedule all their flights to allow them to launch a ferry service to the City and capture a chuck of the Metro North commuters going in the opposite direction. There might be enough of them to make the ferry service a profit center (possibly almost free for NAL passengers).

    There are a lot of opportunities here if NAL plays the cards right.

  24. I think this service will do very well. The European low cost market is very used to long distance airports from the center. All it needs for transit is a well run coach service.

    The journey time is only likely to be 30-45min longer to many places than from JFK or EWR. Considering I’ve queued in immigration at JFK and EWR for >2hrs, this is a total no brainer to switch to using this, even if it was not a huge deal cheaper.

    This definitely won’t replace the EWR or JFK, but I think it will be able to establish a niche no problem. There is huge demand nyceurope and some of these customers will be extremely price sensitive.

  25. I think it’s a great idea, and I can’t wait to try it! Most of the comments here are NYC-centric — if I lived in Manhattan I wouldn’t consider Stewart either. This is presumably aimed at the Hudson Valley counties, western Connecticut, northern Pennsylvania. Big population, huge (too much) development. I fly every other month, for business and leisure. I will do anything to avoid JFK and LGA, which for me is two bridges, nightmarish traffic, exorbitant parking, long TSA lines, etc. Most current flights from SWF require a stop at a hub — I find that more convenient than hiking out to Queens. Newark isn’t quite as bad, but it’s no great pleasure either. White Plains isn’t an option; the runways are short and the neighbors won’t allow any additional service. Islip? Laughable! There are already two of the largest airports on Long Island. As for SWF, true, the public transport is pathetic. But if you rent a car, you’re already on top of two interstate highways. It might work.

  26. Flying Norwegian from Stewart Field in Newburgh, NY, could make sense since there is a large service area north of New York City without international flights. People from Westchester County might find it easier to zip up the NYS Thruway to Newburgh than struggle to get to Kennedy or Newark Liberty. Even folks from Albany can get there in just over an hour. There are several colleges from Vassar to Cornell with students eager to travel. The interstate highway system can also draw people from western Connecticut. The Hudson Valley is not just apple orchards. There are many corporations such as IBM. Norwegian just has to match the number of flights to the demand.

  27. Legoland is still awaiting approvals from various government agencies, and additional funding/incentives from NY State, before moving from proposed to being built. If Legoland NY happens, the earliest it will open is 2019, so that leaves at least two (2) years before that would impact Norwegian’s operations at Stewart International Airport if they begin in 2017. However, if Legoland NY gets built, then Stewart Airport would likely benefit from having a popular tourist attraction nearby.

  28. Can it work for Norwegian at SWF? Most certainly. If you do a 90 mile (1 hour 30 minute) catchment area and with the major roads crisscrossing north-south/east-west then you have a large market. It all depends on the airline marketing and if they get that right, then SWF will prove a very profitable route. Early indications are for Cork (Ireland) and Edinburgh (Scotland) to be introductory routes and the Irish/Scots will not consider flying to/from secondary airports a factor.

    Don’t be surprised if one of the major airlines offer a “seasonal summer service” from SWF to try and drive out Norwegian.. if that is the case then I hope DOT take note of “predatory behaviour”.

    This could be a massive boost to the region…so lets see what transpires.

  29. Not sure if it will appeal to those downstate, but it sure does appeal to those of us in the greater capital district. Flights out of Albany are horrendous, both in travel time and expense, forcing the majority of us to make the 3+hour trek to NYC or Boston just to get a decent flight. Frankly, we’re hoping this Norwegian venture takes off (pun intented!)

  30. If you live in Manhattan, you can take the Metro North Hudson Line to Beacon, where most of the time there is a dedicated shuttle that meets trains and goes to Newburgh and stops at Stewart – the shuttle fare is $1.00 (yes, one buck). Right now the service is unavailable late nights and weekends, but I expect that if and when Norwegian service starts, it will be adjusted to coordinate with flight schedules .
    Stewart is a compact, modern facility with inexpensive ample parking, easy highway access, short security lines, and comfortable clean waiting areas.

    Anticompetitive behavior in recent years by the airline oligopoly has kept prices high, but believe me I fly SWF whenever possible. At one point we had American, US Airways, AirTran, Northwest, and Delta; prices were lower, but consolidation in the US airline industry has resulted in exactly what economists would predict- less supply, higher prices.

    Lets hope this service succeeds

  31. I have family in Europe and the drive from the Capital region that is chronically underserved by overly expensive Albany International to Stewart will be very welcome compared to going to JFK, Newark, or Boston. The drive is a few hours rather than wasting a full day with the other options.
    The only real long term solution is to put high speed rail in that connects JFK, Newark, Stewart, Bradley, and Albany. That way craptastic LaGuardia can be closed entirely by moving especially national flights to the smaller airports. Transit from one airport to another should be 2 hours or less with full luggage service. That way the southern Northeast can check in at a local airport and get to any place in the world with ease.

  32. Give Norwegian Air a chance . Cork airport is beautiful and easy stop for people in the South of Ireland . Aer Iingus is going from bad to worse . There aircraft are a discarded . I have been a customer of them for 50years and have seen the deteration of what once was a wonderful airline . My experience last November was terrible ,toilet out of use and seats ripper and torn . The pride I once felt for this airline is no more . Good luck to Norwegian Air .

  33. Interesting read of the critique of SWF. I always saw it as a fantastically convient airport. I also had the benefit of growing up 20 miles away (in the town they are proposing to build Legoland in).

    I would rather go to a smaller airport and take advantage of the little traffic, convent parking, short security lines and fewer delays any day.

    I live in NW Pennsylvania now so my local airport is ERI. On a recent trip to Westchester for business I flew into SWF via DTW. Fantastic experience. On the return, for some dumb reason I decided to leave from EWR. Terrible experience. Waited 45 minutes to go through security, the flight was delayed by almost two hours and I missed my connection and had to stay overnight in DTW. If I left out of SWF I would have made my connection and been home to ERI that night.

    Similar thing happened a few years ago going to EWR when the connection out of DTW was delayed for equipment problems. I had them rebook me to SWF and I got there two hours before I could have made it to EWR.

    So for the reasons mentioned above, I wouldn’t so easily overlook less crowded airports like SWF. For those who live reasonably closeby it’s the hands down best choice. If they could just solve the public transportation gaps it could become the first option for even more.

  34. This is a great perspective if Manhattanites were the only people that fly to Europe. Manhattan is a speck on the map with at least 3 major airports already at their feet. Last I checked NY is a fairly large state with the majority of the state being outside “The Big Apple”. This is a win win for all New Yorkers!

  35. Just booked Edinburgh to Stewart in December. Would anyone like to recommend a stopover between Stewart and Manhattan. (Family of 4 kids late teens).

  36. I live in Greenwich CT (1 hour and 15 mins to Stewart) and am originally from Cork with many family over there. It takes me 50+ minutes to JFK plus parking and long TSA lines etc etc there and I used to have to drive from Shannon or go Heathrow and then Cork. This is a no-brainer for me (and the Irish in Yonkers and Westchester) who are from that part of Ireland. My mother lives 15 minutes from the Cork airport. I’m expecting to see many of my family in the coming year (esp when they come over to do their Xmas shopping at Woodbury Common).

  37. NYC airports are a mess! Stewart is a convenient option for those that don’t have to rely on mass transit. Let’s hope this is a success. More airlines should follow to help alleviate the NYC congestion.

  38. I don’t know why NYC is even entering into this conversation. The target flyer for Stewart isn’t an NYC resident. They’re from Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, the Albany area, and possibly Fairfield and Litchfield Counties in CT, though some of the CT residents will no doubt go to Hartford. That is a heavily populated area with lots of disposable income, although the wonderful thing about what Norwegian is doing is that they’re bringing us affordable airfare, so you don’t have to be wealthy to fly with them. Getting down to NYC or Northern Jersey is a huge hassle for most suburbanites. Finding and paying for transportation and planning for travel time in the high-traffic metro region discourages many people outside the city from flying frequently. But a quick, easy trip up I-84? You can probably get a friend to drive you as a favor and just pay for their gas. Seriously, I think these flights are going to be very, very popular. I hear their introductory $65 flights are already mostly booked, and I couldn’t be happier! It’s about time Hudson Valley residents got a convenient, low-cost choice that doesn’t require a long haul down to the city!

  39. I live in New Orleans, am 66 and have flown in and out of New York airports many times both domestically and internationally, AND have NO Intention of ever flying out of any of them ever again BUT read this
    ENTIRE thread!!!!! And am waiting with bated breath to find out what happens. The ability to use an invention which gets us to the other side of the world in hours as opposed to weeks and months and years as it was for so many thousands of years is still magic!!! Best of luck to all who journey from Stewart.

  40. Ive just read on BBC that Norwegian intend to fly from Belfast, NI to NY Stewart and TF Green Boston. The Belfast airport thinks its great following United pulling out of its route to NY, but as you say I dont think its going to work out. Why would you choose to have to travel another 70 miles by land just to get to NY, or Boston? That would probably take 2 hours by coach. After a long flight, I wouldnt want to do that! I would rather spend a couple of hours going to Dublin at the start of the journey, and then fly direct to NY or Boston.

    1. That misses the point. There are about a million people who live within an hour or two of Newburgh. Those living in Albany, Schenectady, Poughkeepsie, White Plains, and similar communities will not have to go to NYC to get direct service to Europe — at a low price.

  41. It seems the writer is actually very unfamiliar with the NYC area.

    Manhattan is a transit hub, but most New Yorkers don’t live in Manhattan. For most NYC residents, the trek to either EWR or JFK is over an hour long due to congestion on the Belt Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway, Atlantic Ave for JFK and the SI Expressway, NJ Tpke and 1/9 to Newark. Most Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and NJ residents will NEVER go to Newburgh, but that leaves the Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties’ residents in New York as well as all of southern CT residents, Albany-Capitol area residents and possibly some from northern PA that would certainly prefer Stewart.

    I live in central Brooklyn and last night drove from Washingtonville, about 5 minutes south of Stewart Airport to my house in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Stewart has incredibly cheap long-term parking and no immigration/customs lines. There are no waits for take-offs or delays on landing. You may literally save hours traveling through there. I am the biggest reason for why it will work. I live in central Brooklyn and even I would go up to Newburgh to fly non-stop.

    By the way, most New Yorkers do own cars. Most New Yorkers don’t live in Manhattan.

  42. There is a lot of People who want to travel around the North east USA, and they are so glad to not have to travel thru NY, and their airports!!!!!!!!!

  43. am planning on flying there from scotland later this year … as i am planning on visiting upstate new york and vermont primarily, it is nice to not have to fly thru boston, and frankly jfk and ewr are simply airports to avoid at almost any cost imho …

      1. I’ve been reading through the thread. My question is what are the methods of transport to get from Newburgh to Manhattan or preferably Brooklyn? What does is cost?

        Through Norweigan I can get a round trip from Edinburgh for £265 which is about £300 cheaper than anywhere else so i dont mind a little inconvenienve. I do want to confirm if there is an option of a Bus or train before I book though as I’d end up spending just as much in an uber to an from the airport as i originally saved.

        Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated.


        1. I actually put my money where my mouth is and booked a return flight from Stewart to Shannon in December for $300 return. Incredible. Another $30 each way to get the front row and a few bucks for baggage but that’s a great fare. Stewart is about 1.15 from Greenwich CT so it’s an easier commute than JFK or EWR.

  44. For anyone who comes across this article:

    Starting June 15, 2017 Coach USA’s Stewart Airport Express will offer fast, easy, convenient express bus service between Stewart International Airport and New York City. Tickets must be purchased in advance from Coach USA and are exclusively available on their website. Visit

  45. Hey. Super off topic, but does anyone knowing SWF airport surrounding well have any suggestions for crew to live? Which neighborhoods are close to public transportation to and from airport and that are safe areas to live?

  46. I think many of the possible pitfalls you raise make sense, but I’m still happy about this! I live in CT about equidistant from the New York airports, Boston and Stewart. But Stewart would be a nice easy drive compared to the others, and the price is right. White Plains is never going to go to Europe, and as for Tweed, my closest airport, well…

    So I’m crossing my fingers this works.

  47. People who are outside the NYC are praying to have other possibility to travel outside the USA than using JFK. that’s all in the topic. this Stewart is a great option for people from NY, PA, CT. Depends if unions allow for that. Hope they will be not able to block it.

  48. Seems some of you are forgetting the traffic the other way? Coming to Stewart from Europe with the intention of spending a week in Catskills seems fantastic. No need to drive the long distance from Newark :-) Personally I have been in New York lots of times and have no need to go there on vacation anymore. Catskills so close to the airport is simply awesome. The US needs all possible income from European tourists.

  49. A lot of People traveling the noth east of USA, a glad they dont have to travel thru one of New Yorks bigger airports.! Not to many is thinking about this!

  50. You may be unaware but the term “British Isles” is insulting to Irish citizens. Alternatives are the Atlantic Archipelago”,] “Anglo-Celtic Isles”, the “British-Irish Isles] and the Islands of the North Atlantic. Below is an article which will give you an insight into this

    FrankFurt Hahn airport is owned by Fraport which owns FrankFurt airport.Fraport developed Hahn to reduce the amount of traffic using Frankfurt. Ryanair didn’t “pull people away’ but rather FraPort and the Germany government made a conscious decision.

    A bit of research instead of speculation and half thoughts would be a welcome addition to your entertaining posts.

  51. British Airways got f…ed up with USA airport taxes. BA was forced to pay highest taxes in USA airports, compare to all industry,- worldwide. Many years ago BA tried to fix it in USA courts, but they lost.
    Norwegian arranged Stewart Airport Express bus service, for $20 from NY. My one way flight from Stewart airport, to Edinburgh cost me only about $50.

  52. i booked it for summer, and im norwegian… Good price, and there is a bus service from the termianl to nyc port authority…20 dollar….

  53. Its more than a year since you wrote this post. Since then, Norwegian has substantially increased the number of flights to Stewart. (There will be two a day to Dublin starting in April 2018.) I am curious when you will be acknowledging your skepticism about Stewart was unwarranted.

    There are a few factors that will cause airlines to seek more direct flights to smaller airports. The amount of people traveling keeps increasing, while the very largest passenger planes, such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 are not selling. Thus, the major airports, which are often already overcrowded, are being pushed to their capacity limits.

    Separately, the airlines keep replacing their smaller planes with a new generation, that have a much longer range than the airplanes that they are replacing. As airlines modern their fleet with the Boeing 737MAX, Bombardier CSeries and Airbus A320neo, they will be able to connect smaller markets that are further away. A place like Stewart might be in too small a market for the Boeing 767. But the Bombardier CS100 has at most 133 passengers, and it has the range to cross the Atlantic Ocean. There are probably a dozen cities in Europe that you fill a plane that size for daily flights.

    1. Guest – Norwegian’s decisions around Stewart don’t mean it’s working by any stretch. This is an airline that lost money in 2017 with a massive -11% margin in Q4. I don’t take any decisions it makes seriously at this point. I’m writing about this more next week.

  54. Getting from Stewart to NYC actually isn’t that bad. The bus takes around 1.5-2 hours, and only costs $20. It’s a comfy ride, you’ll get a nice seat, wifi, and there’s also an onboard bathroom. Comfort-wise, beats taking the city bus to LGA or even the subway to JFK.

    You can also take an Uber, which will cost $100-$150 (for an UberX car).

    A full guide and explanations of available options (including an additional train option) is available here:

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