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Newark Airport Opens New Terminal A
After a month-long delay, Newark Liberty International Airport’s brand-new Terminal A opened for operations last week.
Passengers began using the 1 million square foot terminal on Thursday, marking a much-anticipated grand opening for the beautiful new facility. With a price tag of $2.7 billion dollars, the new terminal is the largest single investment in New Jersey in the history of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
A Gorgeous New Terminal
The new terminal is replacing the old Terminal A, which sits to the north of the new facility and is set to be demolished. That building opened in 1973 and has a reputation as an outdated and uncomfortable facility with limited amenities. The airport as a whole does not have the best reputation either. In late 2022, Newark Liberty International Airport was ranked as the worst airport in the mega-airport category for passenger satisfaction in consumer research and analytics firm J.D. Power’s 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.
The airport’s new Terminal A is on track to change that. Compared with the poorly lit and crowded spaces in the old Terminal A, the newly opened facility is a major improvement. Departing passengers are welcomed by large modern common check-in area featuring high ceilings and natural light. A common security area features 16 lanes, a significant improvement from the old Terminal A which had individual security checkpoints for each pier of gates.
Throughout the terminal, passengers can enjoy modern art as well as food and retail outlets from 60 regional, national and global brands. While the terminal currently does not have any lounges, four are set to open in the future: an American Admirals Club, a Delta Sky Club, a United Club and an American Express Centurion Lounge. Thursday’s opening included 21 of the 33 gates, which now serve Air Canada, American Airlines, JetBlue and some United Airlines flights. Delta Air Lines will also start using the facility later in the year when the final 12 gates become operational.
Old (Left) and New (Right) Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport (Photos: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)
A Rocky Opening
The opening of Newark’s newest airport terminal faced some setbacks. The first phase of the terminal was first scheduled to open in 2021 but was pushed back to the summer of 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then delayed to early December when it was subsequently pushed back to this month due to some last-minute operational issues with fire alarms and security systems.
The terminal also faced a number of hiccups on its opening day. An early morning power outage briefly shut down all security screening. Then, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) identified a security breach, in which two individuals apparently managed to bypass a security checkpoint. Delays at the security checkpoint have continued to affect passengers travelling out of the new Terminal A, with the airport posting on Twitter about security delays at the terminal multiple times since its opening.
There also appeared to be some confusion among passengers about the opening of the new terminal, with the airport making a midday Tweet on opening day with directions for those parked at the old Terminal A. Despite the terminal making positive visual impressions, passengers also reported delays with flights and bags.
A Redeveloped Airport
The new Terminal A is part of an overall redevelopment plan for the airport that could change its subpar reputation among passengers. The next phase of the plan involves the hiring of a planning and design firm to oversee a vision plan for the airport. The Port Authority has also committed to replacing the aging AirTrain Newark system. The train line, which carries passengers and employees between terminals, parking facilities and the Northeast Corridor Rail Link Station, is an essential part of the airport’s infrastructure but is at the end of its useful life.
Despite the long road ahead for the redevelopment plan, the Port Authority is optimistic about the facility’s future. “The first airport operations out of the world-class Terminal A mark a truly historic milestone for Newark Liberty,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton in a press release.
“This is an important step forward in our vision to transform the airport into a state-of-the-art gateway to the world. We are committed to continue elevating the passenger experience by building modern, 21st century facilities like this terminal, delivering superior amenities and a real new Jersey sense of place.”
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