Airline will stop Philadelphia flights for October
American Airlines announced this past week that it would suspend service between New York Stewart International and Philadelphia — the only flight its offers from the New Windsor airport — beginning Oct. 7 until at least Nov. 3.
The airline cited low demand and the financial strain of the COVID-19 shutdown. It also suspended service in 14 other markets.
The other airlines that operate from Stewart are Allegiant (with flights to Florida, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia); Delta (to Detroit) and JetBlue (to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale). Norwegian Air ended its flights from Stewart to Ireland last year.
American Airlines said it would “continue to re-assess plans for these and other markets as an extension of the [federal] Payroll Support Program remains under deliberation. The full, updated October schedule will be released Aug. 29, and American anticipates releasing its updated November schedule by late September.”
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, whose district includes the Highlands and who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement that “any limitation or suspension of service is deeply concerning. This disappointing decision from American Airlines only highlights the need for Leader [Mitch] McConnell and Senate Republicans to stop obstructing critically-needed COVID-19 relief and recovery funding.”
While the air travel disruptions due to COVID-19 are to blame for this, Stewart was already charting an unsustainable path for the long term. Why would anyone spend the extra time and extra money to take a two- or three-leg journey out of Stewart, when it’s only an hour drive to LaGuardia or Newark?
Instead of relying so heavily on the spoke-and-wheel scheduling for air travel, which prioritizes frequent service and rock-bottom prices over all else, while increasing delays, unnecessary flights and overly crowded airports, Stewart could become a model for what a truly useful regional airport should be: competitive, nonstop, shuttle flights to key cities (e.g., LA, DC, Chicago, London, Toronto) — the types of places where people actually want to end up, as opposed to dumping passengers at other hubs for endless connections.
I’m not suggesting 15 flights a day to Dubai and Tokyo, but a staggered schedule of fewer flights to more useful destinations is better for our economy and the environment. Port Authority should demand that any new tenants respond to the needs of people of the Hudson Valley, and only then can Stewart become a great airport. If that’s not possible, shut it down and build a solar farm.