Friday, October 11, 2013

Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR) gets upgrades for Super Bowl XLVIII

NEWARK — Among the various luxury jets parked outside the new Signature Flight Support terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport recently was the big daddy of private aircraft, the Boeing Business Jet, an opulently appointed 737 airliner with living and dining areas, shower and bath, and a master bedroom.

And more like it are expected.

"We will get the larger aircraft," said Signature’s eastern regional vice president, Mike French, who was talking about a surge in private jet traffic expected to descend on local airports for Super Bowl XLVIII, scheduled for Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium.

Signature is putting the finishing touches on a new $11 million terminal in Newark, where it anticipates a tripling of its normal volume of 20 to 25 flights per day during the run-up to the game. Signature’s Newark location is expected to attract the largest private jets because of the airport’s commercial-length runways.

To accommodate its jet-setting fans in the style to which they are accustomed, Signature’s new terminal will offer all the comforts of home or office. The 11,020-square-foot terminal will have leather sofas and chairs, 60-inch high-definition television screens, a bar, private offices with phones and internet access, and custom black-and-white photographs of New York City landmarks. Ultra high-end clients flying on their own jets will have a separate VIP lounge with bathrooms, and a separate entrance onto the tarmac, distinguishing them from charter groups.

"We certainly do cater to a high net-worth individual," said Patrick Sniffen, a Signature spokesman.

State officials have cheered the NFL’s decision to play the next Super Bowl in New Jersey as a boon to local development and employment. Apart from Signature’s new terminal, the airport Marriott location is undergoing a $34 million face-lift.

Rahsaan Johnson, a spokesman for United Airlines, said several projects are underway at Newark’s Terminal C, run by United, to be in place by late January. They include a new check-in area for top-tier members of United’s mileage-plus club; the addition of four screening lanes; and creation of a space where carry-on bags can be screened while passengers wait in line ahead of the checkpoint. The latter two are in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration.

"We expect a noticeable increase in the number of people flying to, from and through Newark Airport for the game," Johnson said.

Less visible aviation preparations for the game include enhanced security plans by the Transportation Security Administration and the Port Authority Police Department. The Federal Aviation Administration says it will impose a temporary flight restriction on the airspace above and around MetLife Stadium during and immediately before and after the game, although details of the restriction have not been released.


Small general aviation airports in the region are also expected to see an increase in game-related flights. The closest one to the game is Teterboro Airport in Bergen County, whose southern end is just 2 miles away north of MetLife stadium.

Kirk Stephen, a spokesman for Meridian, a fixed base operator that also runs charter flights at the airport, said pilots approaching from the South on Sundays see players on the field.

Stephen said Meridian is expecting a significant increase in traffic for the game. And while the focus will be on passenger comfort and convenience, Meridian will try to accommodate flight crews on Super Bowl Sunday as well.

"The game will be shown for the pilots while they’re waiting," he said.

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