New York Governor Eliot Spitzer led officials from the Port Authority and Hudson Valley communities in commemorating the first day of Port Authority control of Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY. Officials vowed to develop the underutilized facility into a strong regional airport serving the travel and business needs of the Hudson Valley while also helping alleviate congestion and ease delays at the New York-New Jersey metropolitan-area airports.
Governor Spitzer said, ‘The Port Authority has the resources and expertise to help Stewart Airport realize its potential as a major transportation hub for this vastly expanding region. As I stated in my inaugural address, the expansion of Stewart Airport will help to stimulate economic development in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Additional air capacity at Stewart will also help ease congestion currently afflicting our increasingly stressed metropolitan airports as we near their capacity and plan for future population and passenger growth.’
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, ‘As airport stewards since the first half of the last century, the Port Authority’s record is unrivaled. We have enjoyed great success and growth at our airports, which has driven robust economic development. Today we take another bold step, helping to grow the economy while providing relief for travelers at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia.’
Port Authority Executive Director Anthony E. Shorris said, ‘Like the entire Hudson Valley, Stewart is primed for growth, and the Port Authority is perfectly positioned to make that growth a reality. We know how to make airports work for their passengers and their communities, and we look forward to taking on this challenge with help from the new Stewart Citizen’s Advisory Panel and Governor Spitzer’s Lower Hudson Smart Growth Planning Initiative.’
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Astrid C. Glynn said, ‘I am pleased to join Governor Spitzer in welcoming an experienced, successful airport operator such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to take over the lease of Stewart Airport. I am confident that business at Stewart Airport will flourish under the Port Authority’s guidance and look forward to working with them in the future.’
Skybus CEO Bill Diffenderffer, whose airline announced new service at the airport, said, ‘Stewart International Airport is a growing factor in the New York metropolitan area transportation picture. Today’s takeover of the airport by the Port Authority will only accelerate Stewart’s importance as a regional airport. We think our service from Columbus and from North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad International Airport beginning in early 2008 will contribute to that growth and give Skybus customers an exciting new destination.’
In addition to Skybus, the Port Authority has been in active discussions with air carriers seeking to provide new services at Stewart, which currently offers scheduled flights to several cities in Florida, as well as Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia. The agency also is creating a community advisory board comprising a broad spectrum of Hudson Valley residents, and business and civic leaders. The board is expected to convene by the end of the year.
The airport is owned by the State of New York. The Port Authority Board of Commissioners in January authorized the purchase of the operating lease from a private firm for $78.5 million, and in September approved more than $17 million for parking and roadway improvements. The lease runs through 2099.
Stewart Airport covers 2,400 acres and features two parallel runways that can handle major jet service outside of the crowded airspace over Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports. In 2006, Stewart Airport handled 300,000 passengers, and is expected to handle more than 800,000 this year. By comparison, LaGuardia handled about 26 million passengers last year and sits on only 680 acres on land.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jer