For Jetsetters, Newark Liberty Airport Terminal A 'Signature' Experience
December 13, 2013
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  • Two airline passengers heading to Nashville, Tenn., pulled up to a terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport on Wednesday morning. Eddie Queen, who has worked at the airport the past 60 years, took their bags.

    They walked briskly through the terminal to a waiting van that took them to their jet. Within moments, they were taxiing toward a runway. They most likely arrived at their final destination before passengers in the larger Terminal C made it through security and boarded their plane.

    The perks of flying corporate or private jets are many, and among them is the sleek new terminal dedicated to these upscale fliers at Signature Flight Support.

    Signature, a subsidiary of London-based BBA Aviation, is not an airline, but a company that supports passengers, crews and private or corporate aircraft. It recently upgraded its terminal on the airport’s edge with a sleek, modern facility.

    A lot of arriving passengers, however, may barely notice the 60” wall-inset televisions, the free coffee and pastries, the oversized chairs in the two lobbies or the abundance of natural light.

    “Our goal is to get passengers from the aircraft, through the facility and into their limousine without hesitation,” said Eric Richardson, general manager of the terminal. “The passengers are in and out, we see little of them. The crew may hang with us all day, though. They are a big part of who we deal with. We’re catering to them all day long.”

    Signature operates at 65 airports in the United States, including Teterboro and Morristown. The $11 million facility in Newark is the company’s prototype for passenger traffic flow with two lounges. Ultra high-end clients have their own VIP lounge with a separate entrance onto the tarmac.

    The 11,020-square-foot facility was built to LEED Gold standard. Situated on 11 acres, Signature also has a 39,900-square-foot hangar.

    It opened for operations last month.

    Richardson said the facility needed to be upgraded and enlarged because of the number of chartered flights that land in Newark.

    “On the whole, Teterboro is the main airport for corporate aircraft,” he said. “Our forté here at Newark, while we don’t have the sheer volume of traffic that Teterboro has, is that we have the longer runways and can handle larger aircraft. We handle all the way up to private 747s.”

    Richardson estimates about 60 percent of the traffic that passes through Signature is foreign. A Customs office is on the premises.

    Departing passengers don’t need to have their bags screened unless they’re flying a larger jet like a 737, according to FAA regulations.

    It’s up to each airline to ensure its passenger list and make certain passengers who are they say they are and not on a no-fly list.

    The terminal’s completion is just in time for Super Bowl XLVII at MetLife Stadium in February. Signature can attract the largest jets because of its commercial-sized runways. Richardson said he’s expecting “an onslaught” for the game.

    “We’ll probably have 75 to 100 aircraft parked here,” he said, gesturing out the windows toward the tarmac. On an average day, there’s about 25 jets outside the terminal and in the hangar.

    “Once we fill up the parking lot, we’ll still have drop-and-gos” in which the aircraft will land, unload their passengers and then take off to park at another airport.

    It’s after the game, however, when things will become hectic.

    “It seems there’s a huge exodus after the game,” Richardson said. “So around midnight, the airports around here are going to be really busy.”