Since the start of 2017, Stewart International Airport has been on the run towards success. Just one year ago the news that would change Stewart forever was announced: scheduled transatlantic service with Norwegian. With the airport having the geographic advantage of being in the New York City area, it was a win-win for both the airport and airline.
Aeronautics received special access from Norwegian to see how much Stewart has changed and how committed Norwegian has been to the airport, which lies less than 60 miles away from Manhattan.
Many would think that Stewart is too small of an airport to be shown around: there was actually more than a traveling passenger would expect. As my fellow Aeronautics writer Sergey Tenewitz and I were escorted through the terminal, we were allowed to visit the new office that Aviation Port Services (APS) built for Norwegian’s flights. The office consisted of a number of rooms, each handling different roles. The Station Manager and Assistant Station Manager worked in the first office room while the second was a common room dedicated to all Ramp Agents, the Lost and Found Manager, Catering Manager, and the Duty Manager. The final two rooms were for the operations personnel and for the Administrative Supervisor. During our time at the facility, it was clear that this was a bustling operation, with at least 20 staff members passing by. This did not take into account the Supervisor and Check-in staff which adds an extra 10-15 personnel.
In addition to witnessing the scale of Norwegian’s operation at the small upstate New York airport, we had the opportunity to speak with the station manager Ilias Grigoropoulos. Mr. Grigoropoulos has a long history in the aviation industry. He started his career in the 90s as a check-in agent at John F. Kennedy International airport with Olympic Airways and worked his way up working with airlines such as Lufthansa and Emirates before coming to Stewart to open Norwegian’s new base. He told us that he was grateful to work at Stewart and have the opportunity to be in a different environment from his previous workplace.
In addition, he was able to answer some of our questions. One that caught our writer’s eye was how effective the “Stewart Express” was in getting people from New York City to use Stewart over Newark or JFK. Mr. Grigoropoulos stated that “Over 70% of the passengers flying with Norwegian out of Stewart use the Stewart Express,” which shows the willingness of passengers to go out of their way to use a secondary airport. This implies that the system in place could be replicated in the future at other American airports. As this response came through it brought another question: whether traffic from airports such as Albany, Syracuse, and Buffalo is being taken away with the new service from Stewart, to which Grigoropoulos claims that changes in the traffic flow from these smaller airports are minor.
With the tour coming to an end, we thanked Mr. Grigoropoulos and the rest of the Aviation Port Services team. Both Sergey and I conclude that Norwegian’s commitment to Stewart is self-evident in the success it has garnered for the airport. Stewart’s distinctive size and story question what the future will bring to the industry with Stewart being the pioneer in this moment of change.
Special thanks to Aviation Port Services and Norwegian. Featured image by Alex Dalton.