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Ever wonder where celebrities and sports teams go when they fly into Newark Liberty Airport and want to avoid prying eyes? One of the places is an unassuming building off an access road at the northern edge of the airport, yards from truck traffic lumbering down an interstate.
Now, well-heeled travelers arriving for February’s Super Bowl will find even cushier surroundings.
Signature Flight Support cut the ribbon Friday on a revamped, $11 million private terminal that offers amenities including a lounge with large flat-screen TVs, an executive conference room, free Wi-Fi and courtesy shuttle service.
Plans for the new building were already in place when MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford was selected to host the Super Bowl in 2010, according to general manager Eric Richardson. The awarding of the game and the possibility of a significant bump in customers provided more momentum to the project.
“Given it’s the Super Bowl, it will probably be the busiest week I’ve had here,” Richardson said.
Signature has, in one form or another, been at Newark since the early 1960s when it was known as Newark Air Service. It also has operations at nearby Teterboro and Morristown airports, both of which figure to get a boost in business during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, as high-rollers flock to the New York metropolitan area.
Signature caters to corporate and private jets and charter flights, Richardson said, and sports teams and celebrities are part of the clientele. In addition to providing a private terminal for travelers and crew, the company offers concierge services such as hotel reservations and ground transportation. Richardson wouldn’t say which celebs have passed through his doors, though he said Air Force One has used the terminal on occasion.
“Some are outgoing; some just want to move along,” he said of the rich and famous. “They all come here not to be bothered.”
Signature will be able to provide a valuable service during Super Bowl week by storing planes on its grounds. Finding enough space for private planes — and fitting them into flight schedules when they leave town — is a challenge for air traffic controllers at every Super Bowl, and may be even more so this time since the New York area’s airspace is already the most crowded in the nation.
Richardson estimated Signature can house about 75 planes overnight while still accommodating those flights that will drop passengers off and depart.