As the Times Herald Record reports, at 7:30 Tuesday morning, the first Jetblue flight will depart Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY. The first inbound flight, at 1:45PM, there will be speeches, coffee, and a ribbon cutting…even a traditional water cannon salute.
Self-service kiosks are in full working order and Jetblue has twelve employees at the airport, and will increase to nineteen in January when will add a second daily to both Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale and inaugurate West Palm Beach service.
Commercial air service at Stewart Airport began in 1990 when American Airlines began three daily roundtrips to Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. Even before that, it had its importance. It has a very long runway(11,818 feet) for such a small airport and is an alternate for the space shuttle. In 1981, 52 American Hostages held in Iran landed at Stewart. It became the first U.S. commercial airport to be privatized, although British National Express Group has announced its plans to sell the airport.
Governor-Elect Elliot Spitzer considers Stewart a priority for his administration, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, operator of all three major New York area airports, has considered taking over control of the facility. With the addition of not only Jetblue but Airtran service, Stewart could very well reach its potential as the fourth New York airport.
In 2005, construction of a direct access route from I-84 to Stewart Airport via Drury Lane began, which will improve access to the airport, which currently is accessed by a rather inconvenient and circular route. The federal government has approved the idea of a rail link to Stewart, advocated by New York State Senator Charles Schumer, which would connect the nearby Port Jervis Rail Line to the airport. It would give passengers a one-stop ride to New York City or various parts of New Jersey via Metro-North and New Jersey Transit. It would require the acquisition of various properties and may be subject to additional public scrutiny. Funds for the line have not yet been appropriated.