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"JetBlue brings new hope to Stewart International Airport"


 
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

JetBlue brings new hope to Stewart International Airport
By Tim Logan
The Hudson Valley (NY) Times Herald-Record 


Stewart Airport - Yesterday was not a typical day at Stewart International
Airport.

First there was the line at security. A 45-minute mix of dignitaries and
travelers, far more than usual.

"I've never seen Stewart like this before," a college-age traveler told his
dad as they waited.

Then, upstairs in the terminal, there were balloons, blue and white, and
Christmas trees with the same color scheme. There was a peppy radio-station
DJ and a clacking roulette-wheel raffle. There were sandwiches. There was
cider.

And there was a horde of people in a place that's too empty too often. Some
held tickets. Some wore name tags. All were there for the same reason.

JetBlue.

It finally came yesterday, with a flight leaving for Orlando at 6:40 a.m.
and returning around 1:30 p.m., to a giant celebration. A celebration for
the start of operations for a major discount airline at Stewart, the kind of
airline that could bring low fares and put this long-beleaguered airport on
the map - at last.

"We've been waiting for this day for a long time," said airport President
Chuck Seliga.

So have local travelers.

Catherine Nicoli visits her son in Fort Lauderdale several times a year.
Usually she treks down to Newark, N.J., for a decent fare, but this time she
just cruised 15 minutes from her home in Newburgh.

"Used to be it was planes, trains and automobiles," she said. "This is
great. When I heard JetBlue was coming, I did a little happy dance."

Nicoli was one of 112 passengers waiting to board the plane while a string
of politicians made speeches. It was a great day for Stewart, they said, a
great day for the region. The start of a beautiful relationship.

They strained to be heard over the roulette wheel and the radio guy and the
hum of a busy airport. And it was clear that this was not a typical day at
Stewart International Airport.

But it was definitely a good one.

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