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State Series: New Jersey

Since the creation of the first airport in 1909 by Wilbur Wright, cities in the United States have come together to create one of the most expansive airport systems in the world. Over the next few months, our writers have taken an in-depth look to see what airports each state has to offer, what its history entails, and what changes we can expect in the future that will continue to shape the airline industry.

With a state locked between New York City and Philadelphia, attracting airlines to New Jersey has always been a difficult situation for airports of the state. However, low cost carries have proven to be most useful for the state in becoming a global gateway over the years.

Major Airports

Newark Liberty International Airport-Newark, NJ

Newark Liberty is New Jersey’s largest airport and one of three major airports situated in the New York City area. Newark hadn’t seen much success compared to fellow New York airports until the 1970s when low cost carrier PeoplExpress started service as a cheaper New York alternative. PeoplExpress’s dominance at Newark lasted through the 1980s until the carrier merged into Continental, who decided to expand the Newark hub. Continental, now merged with United, saw a large Newark presence succeed and utilised Newark as their gateway to Europe and Asia for New York. United is still the largest carrier at Newark, carrying roughly 70% of the airport’s passengers. Alongside United, FedEx’s New York hub is based in Newark allowing for the carrier to fly in multiple aircraft a day.

Although New York-JFK boasts the most international flights, Newark also sees a large amount of international traffic. Flights on international carriers range from El Al and Swiss to Cathay Pacific and Air India. Although United boasts the most domestic and international flights, other US carriers operate into Newark as well. Some of the airlines include Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, jetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Virgin America. Newark has three terminals, Terminal A is home to most domestic and Air Canada flights alongside some United Express flights. Terminal B hosts all the international flights outside of United as well as Delta’s domestic flights. United does most of their international and domestic work side by side at Terminal C. Due to the large amount of international carriers, Newark has many lounges, with international carriers Britsh Airways, Jet Airways, Lufthansa, Porter Airlines and Virgin Atlantic all operating lounges in Terminal B. Domestic carriers also operate many lounges within the airport.

The success that has come to Newark airport has forced the airport to see an increase in wear and tear over the years. While Terminal C has recently gone through a renovation in the early 21st century, Terminals A and B have yet to see the facelift that the old 1970s structure needs. The airport, owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has become part of the Port Authority’s $16 billion transportation budget with Terminal A being slated for demolition and replacement. The new terminal will cost $2.3 billion and will have 33 gates and potential for expansion, should the airport ever need it.


Atlantic City International Airport – Atlantic City, NJ

Although Atlantic City isn’t as large as Newark, the airport still hosts a handful of flights thanks to ultra low cost carrier Spirit Airlines. Spirit is the only year round carrier serving the airport with flights to Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Myrtle Beach, Orlando and Tampa and seasonal service to 5 additional cities (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago (ORD), Detroit, West Palm Beach). Due to the large casino income made in Atlantic City, charter flights operated by Republic Airways and Swift Air for various casinos is common. The only legacy carrier to offer service to Atlantic City recently was United, whose Houston and Chicago flights were suspended in 2014. Air Canada and WestJet have also tried to service Atlantic City from Toronto, with the carriers suspending their seasonal services in 2016 and 2010, respectively. Despite the lack of continuous service, the airport manages to maintain roughly 1.2 million passengers per year.

The airport is large for the service it receives, with the airport operating 8 gates. Due to the small size of the airport, dining and club lounge options are minimal with the airport operating three restauntants and no airline lounges. The airport has also seen a renovation project, with an expansion to the security area, and replacement of taxiways and jetbridges. However, with the struggle to attract airlines to the airport and with Atlantic City’s casino industry struggling, there are no expansion plans for ACY.


Trenton-Mercer Airport- Trenton, NJ

Trenton has suffered the same fate as Atlantic City for years, with the airport struggling to maintain service over the years. The airport saw a large array of carriers from Allegheny Airlines to United. Delta Air Lines was the last of the legacy carriers to serve Trenton when their CRJ-200 service to Atlanta and Boston was suspended in 2007. However, Trenton has gone through a renaissance with ultra low cost carrier Frontier Airlines using the airport as a Philadelphia alternative. Frontier currently is the only airline servicing TTN and has flights to 6 destinations year round with an addition 4 cities being given seasonal service. Thanks to the number of flights that Frontier has added, the airport has seen a spike in passengers from 3,000 in 2010 to 794,000 in 2015.

While the increase in service has helped, Frontier ability to expand has only been met with problems of the airport’s size. Trenton has had to widen their taxiways due to their Airbus A319’s large main landing gear leaving little room for error on TTN’s narrow taxiways. The other problem Trenton is trying to solve is terminal size. The current structure is a single gate with a small lounge for travellers. In January 2016 the airport announced that there were plans for a new $50 million terminal that they hope to have completed in 4 years. Trenton has seen some cause for concern though with Frontier expanding their presence at neighboring Philadelphia International Airport, including shifting some Trenton frequencies and destinations to PHL. The airline claims that this move was made to meet demand and while Trenton lost some flights, the also gained extra frequencies to leisure destinations like Orlando. Despite the carrier’s small shift in flights, they claim they are still satisfied with the consistency and profitability of Mercer and hope to continue servicing the city for years to come.


Other Notable Airports

Due to the state’s small size there is a lack of massive airports with Philadelphia and New York taking hold of most of New Jersey’s travel needs. However, Teterboro Airport has made a name for itself for being New York City’s executive airport. Across the Hudson River from the Big Apple, the executive airport has roughly 400 aircraft movements per day but no commercial passenger service.

Ian McMurtry


  • Ian McMurtry

    Although Ian McMurtry was never originally an avgeek, he did enjoy watching US Airways aircraft across western Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. He lived along the Pennsylvania Railroad and took a liking to trains but a change of scenery in the mid-2000s saw him shift more of an interest into aviation. He would eventually express this passion by taking flying lessons in mid-Missouri and joining AirlineGeeks in 2013. Now living in Wichita, Kansas, Ian is in college majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in business administration at Wichita State University.

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