General Manager Ed Harrison, the man at the helm of fast-growing New York Stewart International Airport, has revealed that passenger numbers have doubled since budget airline Norwegian began its transatlantic services in June last year.

Passenger traffic continues to flood into the Orange County airport — just 60 miles north of New York City — thanks to Norwegian’s flights servicing Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Shannon and Berg in Norway.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official says he is delighted with the success of the airport. "With Norwegian bringing in 250,000, to 300,000 passengers since its launch, it’s really stimulating the market,” says Harrison.

Stewart International is easily accessible to mid-town Manhattan for visitors coming over from Ireland via their Stewart Airport Express. For a $21 fare, visitors can take the 80-minute express bus into the heart of New York City.

Up up and away: Norwegian flight!

Up up and away: Norwegian flight!

And it's not all one-way traffic from Ireland. Harrison says Hudson Valley residents are choosing to fly out of the airport to Europe and to visit Belfast, “where they tell me there's better golf than in Scotland."

The partnership between Norwegian and New York Stewart International has created 230 new jobs and generated an estimated $36 million in annual economic activity.

Read more: Travel tips for Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city

A recent keynote speaker at the New York-New Belfast conference, Harrison says that there are two major construction projects in the works at the airport that will further open up and drive tourism in upstate New York.

“We have the NY Air Show taking place on September 15 and 16 featuring the US Air Force Thunderbirds. This is a major event for us with up to 20,000 people a day coming to see it and traveling for it. The event has a $6m economic impact on the local community from security, hiring of food vendors, and all the hotels in the area are full. The Thunderbirds are like rock stars, you’d think The Beatles were here, it’s an awful lot of fun and a great day for the airport. It’s just one of many events that the New York metropolitan area has to offer travelers who are coming through Stewart.

“We have the world’s largest Legoland under construction locally, as we speak, and it's due to open in 2020."

Harrison, who was based at Newark Liberty International Airport up until four years ago recalls how his boss pitched him his new posting. "He said, 'Ed, what are you doing Monday?' "I said ‘I’m coming to work’ and he said, 'Well you are going to be reporting as General Manager at Stewart International'.”

Adds Harrison: "I was tasked with growing the business at Stewart International and that’s what I have been doing.”

He continued: “It’s been a great opportunity for me to be here at Stewart. I have a great team and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has invested a lot of money into the airport. We are planning to invest another $40 million to build a permanent 20,000 square foot U.S. Customs federal inspection station for all our guests flying in who want to go through a world class hall customs clearance. We are making investments and expecting a lot more traffic to come from Ireland in the time ahead."

Read more: Aer Lingus parent company bidding for Norwegian Air as low-cost airline’s passenger numbers soar

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