Newark Liberty Airport is owned by the City of Newark and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (the Liberty name was adopted to remember the 11 September 2001 atrocity).

The airport is the ‘second airport’ of New York, serving the city and the surrounding metropolitan area, situated 14 miles (22.4km) southwest of midtown Manhattan and 4.5 miles (7.2km) south-east of the city of Newark, NJ – the other two airports are JFK and La Guardia.

There are three runways – 4L/22R at 11,000ft (3,353m) for departures, 4R/22L at 10,000ft (3,048m) for arrivals, and finally 11/29 at 6,800ft (2,073m) for small aircraft and cross winds.

The airport handled 32.8m passengers in 2009. Fed Ex and Continental Airlines use the airport as a major hub.

Newark Liberty terminals

The airport has three terminals designated A, B and C, which were constructed in the 1970s and 1980s. Terminals A and B opened in 1973 (both with four levels) and terminal C was finally opened in 1988 (major base for Continental).

"Newark is the ‘second airport’ of New York, serving the city and the surrounding metropolitan area."

Terminals A and B have their check-in on the top floor (although some carriers such as Silverjet, BA and Air India use the second floor). The gates and shops of A and B are on the third floor and the ground floor is for short-term parking and baggage handling operations.

Terminal C has two check-in levels (one domestic and one international). With C the gates, shops and restaurants are located on a mezzanine floor.

Previous renovation projects have included: terminal C renovation from 1998–2003 which saw a new baggage claim area and the previous baggage claim area was adapted to be a second departure level.

In addition there was a third concourse added and a new 3,400-vehicle parking garage.

New projects

Following a budget award in January 2006 of $5bn from the board of commissioners of the Port Authority there are many capital improvement projects underway across all three of New York’s airports. One major project underway at Newark airport in 2007 worth $325m is the refurbishment of terminal B.

The project will see an increase in capacity for departing passengers and an increase in passenger comfort. The renovations include expansion and updating the check-in areas, constructing a new departure level for domestic flights, and building a new arrivals hall.

There will be increased concessions and food areas (16,000ft²), more passenger screening facilities (three checkpoints and 11 lanes in 23,000ft²), additional baggage screening facilities, more restrooms and more baggage carousels (70,000ft² baggage claim area for domestic arrivals converted from a previous ground floor car park) as well as a new roadway (the project is expected to be completed by late 2010).

"There are many capital improvement projects underway across all three of New York’s airports."

Terminal B has already had a major upgrade back in 1997 when a 250,000ft² federal inspection area for international arrivals was opened and it is definitely due for a new upgrade. Trevor Liddle, the Port Authority modernisation programme director, commented: "the facility (terminal B) needs an upgrade. Terminal B was designed for an equal flow of travellers.

Today, we have two arrivals for every departure, an imbalance that the current configuration does not handle well.

"The 2,000-acre airport has little room to grow. Renovation and modernisation are our only options, as there are no greenfield sites left to build new facilities. This is the best way to get everything done with the fewest inconveniences."

The Port Authority strategic ten-year plan has also mentioned that terminal A is marked for refurbishment and modernisation. These improvements will include expansion of the terminal and added parking. The contracts for the work at the airport were awarded in autumn 2007. Brownworth Engineering Associates have done some of the work at Terminal B relating to mechanical and engineering aspects of the project. VRH Construction was awarded a $59m contract to build a new domestic departures hall in Terminal B.

Railway

The problem with intermodal transport at Newark is a lack of integration with the established public transport network. The Port Authority has recommended that $520m be put aside to buy new trains for the Newark Airtrain and also to extend the PATH service from Penn Station in the centre of Newark to the airport.

The port authority has now developed an ambitious strategic ten-year plan to link all three of New York’s airports with an inter-city / inter-airport rail system.