How Airports Can Keep Up With The Future Of Travel.

Stewart International Airport (SWF) is in the southern Hudson Valley, west of Newburgh, New York, approximately 60 miles (97 km) north of Manhattan. It is operated by the Port Authority Of New York & New Jersey (www.panynj.gov/airports/stewart.html). So it is not just another little airport. It is sometimes billed as New York City’s FOURTH AIRPORT. It has some of the longest runways in the New York area.

Yesterday was a TOUGH WINTER DAY and Stewart served it’s purpose when the other three airports closed for the snow and ice. See a blog: WORLD’S BIGGEST PASSENGER JET FORCED TO LAND AT SWF NEW YORK AIRPORT BECAUSE OF BLIZZARD

A massive winter storm forced an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, to divert to SWF, a small New York airport around 1 p.m. ET on Thursday after heavy winds and whiteout conditions closed runways at its intended destination: John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The 325 passengers aboard Singapore Airlines Flight 26 from Frankfurt, Germany, found themselves on a snowy runway for more than three hours at humble Stewart International, about 80 miles north of JFK. Passengers were leaving the plane after 5 p.m. ET using outdoor stairs.

The sight of the giant plane, whose 262-foot wingspan is more than double that of a Boeing 737, was unusual for the airport, which is dwarfed by JFK in terms of passenger traffic. In 2016, about 137,000 passengers boarded at Stewart. At JFK, some 29 million passengers boarded, according to the Department of Transportation.

The airport’s 11,800 foot runway can easily accommodate the large plane, and the airport even bills itself as an “efficient diversion airport” because the runway is so long. But the airport’s gates aren’t high enough to reach the plane’s doors. Stairs were brought to the aircraft and passengers exited the plane into the outdoors.

Then the plane, which is used on some of the longest international routes, will fly a very short route: from Stewart to JFK, according The spokesman for Singapore Airlines said it wasn’t clear how long that would take, but business-jet operators estimate the flight time on a small jet at about 30 minutes. The plane is expected to then fly back to Frankfurt.

Stewart’s history stretches back to the 1930s when the U.S. Military Academy at West Point built an airfield there to train cadets. It became Stewart Air Force Base in 1948 and what is now the Stewart Air National Guard Base is next to the commercial airport.

When the first UK tourists disembark at New York’s newest international airport last summer, they were be in for a shock. Stewart International is no bigger than a motorway service station. In fact, it’s probably smaller. And most of the time it’s deserted. Last Saturday afternoon (usually peak time for international travel), it was remarkably empty –and remarkably clean. Indeed, the bathrooms were cleaner than any I’ve seen at any airport.

But the airport’s advantage (being outside the congested airspace around Manhattan) is also its drawback. It is over 60 miles north of midtown Manhattan. And transport options will take a little while to catch up with the airport’s ambitions. Launching on Thursday, to coincide with the first transatlantic flights, is the Stewart Airport Express, a direct coach service to Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. It takes 1 hour 25 minutes. And travellers are recommended to book seats in advance. This is really the only way to reach New York City unless you hire a car. At the moment a taxi ride is not an option, unless you want to pay as much as your airfare. A local firm quoted me $250 + tip for a one-way trip.

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