The roar of a Boeing 737 jet engine drowned out the sound of camera clicks and clapping Thursday night as a crowd gathered along a fence on the runway at Stewart International Airport to celebrate the arrival of the first transatlantic Norwegian Air flight.
The flight out of Edinburgh, Scotland arrived around 7:30 p.m., about 45 minutes ahead of schedule. The more than 100 passengers on board streamed out to applause and welcomes from the crowd. The passengers were greeted at the New Windsor airport’s terminal with I Love New York goodie bags, cupcakes from the Culinary Institute of America and dancing Legoland mascots.
For Orange County, the deal with Norwegian represents a chance to both boost international tourism to the region and pick up some of the outbound traffic from New York City’s airports.
County Executive Steve Neuhaus said Norwegian’s presence at the airport will be “transformational.”
“We’re going to have 7,000 passengers here a week added to this volume,” Neuhaus said at a ceremony in the airport terminal before the flight arrived. “It is going to double the capacity of this airport.”
Stewart will be home to the Bærum, Norway-based airline’s newest crew base, its third in the United States. Norwegian will station two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and 30 pilots and flight attendants at the airport to accommodate its new services, with plans to hire additional crew later in the year.
Norwegian’s new flights between Edinburgh and Stewart will operate daily during the summer and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays during the winter. The airline is advertising fares as low as $99 one-way.
Additional flights from Norwegian out of Stewart to Belfast, Northern Ireland; Dublin and Shannon, Ireland and Bergen, Norway will start later this summer.
Thomas Ramdahl, chief commercial officer for Norwegian, said the company has been working close with the Port Authority, the airports operator, the county and state for three years to make this happen.
The guiding principle of Norwegian, Ramdahl said, is that “everybody should be able to afford to fly.”
The next step will be putting the airport and its Hudson Valley on the map with international travelers.
Ramdahl said Newburgh and Orange County is a place “that’s not that known in Europe, but we will make that happen together.”