NY State, Port Authority Look to ‘Re-Energize’ NY Stewart International Airport

Real Estate In-Depth | April 2, 2021

ALBANY—New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on March 30 three major Port Authority of New York and New Jersey initiatives to re-energize New York Stewart International Airport, whose domestic air operations have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Port Authority unveiled a new air carrier incentive program, a new airport marketing campaign to attract interest from across the airline industry to SWF, and the completion of a new Federal Inspection Station first announced by Governor Cuomo in January 2018. Given its location in the heart of the Mid-Hudson region and its access to New York City, New York Stewart is uniquely positioned to serve important segments of air travelers, including international business and leisure travelers, especially as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed across New York and beyond, state officials said.

“As we continue battling the COVID-19 pandemic on the ground, New York State is looking ahead to a post-pandemic future with increasing opportunities for travel, tourism, and economic development,” Gov. Cuomo said. “New York Stewart International Airport is an important gateway to the Mid-Hudson region, and these incentives, marketing and construction initiatives will market the airport to international and domestic travelers as we begin to see increases in passenger volume.”

The announcement coincides with the reopening of major destinations in the Mid-Hudson region with a goal to help jump-start tourism and air travel. The Port Authority initiated dozens of meetings with domestic and international air carriers, to discuss potential routes and lay out the incentive program. In addition, the Port Authority plans to work with local attractions such as the Storm King Art Center, Resorts World Catskills, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, and the LEGOLAND New York Resort and others to explore potential partnerships to grow tourism and air service in the region.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman Kevin O’Toole said, “Re-energizing New York Stewart has been a key goal of the Port Authority’s mission to keep the entire region moving. The airport’s location and market positioning are unique, and with improved international capacity, New York Stewart will continue to be an important low-cost alternative for the New York and New Jersey metropolitan region.”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Rick Cotton said, “The travel and tourism industry are integral to jump-starting our economic recovery. We want the relaunch of New York Stewart Airport to serve as a catalyst for growth in the region. We are committed to providing airlines with strong incentives to fly from New York Stewart and to develop strong partnerships with regional businesses to build on our strategic plan for the airport.”

As part of the program to relaunch New York Stewart, the governor announced the completion of a new, state-of-the-art Federal Inspection Station to be operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The FIS meets modern standards and offers an improved customer experience as the number of airlines and flights routed and operated through SWF increases. These airport enhancements are the part of the agency’s commitment to a five-point strategic plan outlined for New York Stewart by the Port Authority in 2019.

CBP New York Field Office Acting Director, Field Operations Marty C. Raybon said, “With the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Station at New York Stewart International Airport, we will now have the capacity to expeditiously and efficiently process up to 400 passenger arrivals per hour at the airport. This will significantly improve the travelers’ experience while also enhancing CBP’s ability to secure our nation’s borders and help keep our citizens safe.”

To encourage and expand air service at New York Stewart, the Port Authority will implement an updated Air Carrier Incentive Program for SWF. The program will offer airport fee-waivers and marketing support for 24 months for air carriers that begin new nonstop air service to a destination not currently served from New York Stewart. New York Stewart’s incentive program will reduce risk and defer startup costs for air carriers. It is designed to attract prospective domestic and international air carriers as demand in the region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York Stewart has seen the important green shoots of initial new flights. American Airlines recently extended service for travelers between the Hudson Valley and the carrier’s Philadelphia, PA. hub. New service to Savannah, GA. and Destin, FL. beginning early this summer will grow Allegiant Air’s network to six nonstop destinations from SWF including Myrtle Beach, SC, Punta Gorda, Orlando and St. Pete-Clearwater, FL. The Air Carrier Incentive Program seeks to build on this momentum as air travel picks up, with a robust focus on the international market.

Delta and JetBlue discontinued air service at New York Stewart International Airport in September 2020 and have yet to announce plans to relaunch service at the New Windsor-based airport.

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said, “Orange County and the Hudson Valley are year-round destinations, and LEGOLAND’s planned opening in just weeks will bring more new visitors to our area. Likewise, Hudson Valley and New York City area residents who want affordable and accessible flights to places such as Florida, Hilton Head/Savannah and Philadelphia can park and fly from Stewart with no hassle. Stewart is easy to fly in and out of and I look forward to seeing it grow once again.”

This summer, the Port Authority will also launch an integrated business-to-business marketing campaign targeting airline executives and route managers. This omnichannel campaign will feature the benefits of the carrier incentive program and the unique business opportunities of SWF. The campaign will be distributed through channels such as trade publications, customer relationship management tools, digital media, search, social media and direct outreach to reach decision makers and feature the appeal of New York Stewart for multiple segments of the travel marketplace.

The campaign visuals will include a new logo that conveys the airport’s location in the heart of New York apple country and its proximity to New York City. This location makes New York Stewart a prime contender for low-cost travel options, and has key potential to serve individuals, especially for those who relocated to suburban and rural areas during the pandemic. The campaign will feature local attractions and will also highlight the new FIS, which will improve operations for international flights.

In 2018, Gov. Cuomo called for the modernization and expansion of New York Stewart in his ‘State of the State’ address.

Since then, New York State and the Port Authority have invested $37 million in the airport, including funds to support the construction of a permanent FIS that meets modern, 21st century federal standards. The new facility adds 20,000 square feet of space to the existing terminal. That additional space will allow CBP to efficiently screen up to 400 international passengers per hour. As with all new Port Authority construction, the FIS incorporates the agency’s Sustainable Building Guidelines. With the FIS now in place, the Port Authority has completed the major construction work necessary to support new air service.

The recent announcement represents key steps in implementing the five-point strategic plan for New York Stewart laid out in 2019. The plan includes:

  • Moderniing the air carrier incentive program to attract and retain new carriers and expand service to new markets;
  • Leveraging partnerships with regional and state agencies, and working with tourism and trade organizations to promote the airport as a driver of economic activity;
  • Hiring an experienced marketing firm to increase the airport’s visibility in both the international marketplace and in the Mid-Hudson region, and to strengthen the airport’s brand;
  • Developing a joint marketing strategy with key businesses and attractions in the Mid-Hudson region promote SWF; and
  • Working under a new contract with Future Stewart Partners, a joint venture between the globally recognized Groupe Aeroports de Paris — operator of Paris’ airports, including Charles de Gaulle — and AvPORTS Management, including an expanded scope for the building of a modern concession program and collaboration with the Port Authority on attracting new air service to New York Stewart.