Port Authority Eyes Stewart as Its Fourth Airport

Port authority officials are negotiating with National Express Group for control of a long-term lease that would allow them to operate Stewart.

That's part of the reason Vanasse is banking on other things to help propel Stewart's growth. Charter companies bringing groups of Asian, European and Middle Eastern tourists to Kennedy have expressed interest in flying to Stewart. One of the selling points for the popular charter trips is a stop at high-fashion outlet stores at Woodbury Commons, a 20-minute drive from Stewart.

The international charters would also make it possible for the airport to generate cargo business, which is capable of adding both revenue and jobs.

Vanesse also expects a proposal by the Federal Aviation Administration for controlling growing traffic at LaGuardia could be an unintended boon for Stewart. By limiting the number of smaller jets that fly in and out of the airport, major airlines may begin relocating their short-haul regional jet service to Stewart, she said.

But as optimistic as Vanasse might be about Stewart's future, its potential still rests on the wildly cyclical U.S. airline business.

"The airline industry is extremely volatile," Vanasse said. "There are so many things that can impact the business. Stewart's growth may start in 12 months or it may take 24 months."

Or even longer.

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