With Super Bowl XLVIII coming to New Jersey this weekend, New York’s metro area is bracing for an onslaught of visitors and doing its best to prevent catastrophic traffic.
One of the busiest spots will be Teterboro, the New Jersey airport that caters to private jets and is just three miles from the stadium.
To find out how the airport and the companies that operate there are preparing for what may be a historic weekend of traffic, we spoke with private jet executives and headed to the airport itself to take a look.
Historic Traffic, Maybe
The Super Bowl is the most heavily trafficked private jet event in the world, Brad Stewart, CEO of private jet charter company XOJET told Business Insider. The event will bring at least 1,000 private aircraft to the area, maybe up to 1,500. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts 1,200.
Unlike longer events like the Olympics, World Series, and World Cup, the Super Bowl is just one day — so most visitors wants to come in Friday or later, and be home by Monday. That crams a lot of traffic into a very short window.
That being, said, Teterboro is “really well prepared to handle this sort of demand.” Stewart said. It is among the biggest private aircraft airports on the planet, if not the biggest, and it’s used to mega-events like the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in September.
“It’s always busy,” said Alex Wilcox, CEO of JetSuite, a charter company that flies smaller jets on domestic routes and is backed by Tony Hsieh.
It helps that there are “overflow” airports nearby, including Morristown in New Jersey and Westchester and White Plains in New York. They’re farther from both the stadium and New York City, but are “decent options for people who are flexible,” Stewart said.
Nonetheless, the Super Bowl is a new challenge for Teterboro, which is run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The airport, the Super Bowl Host Committee, and the FAA have taken several unusual steps to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
Under normal circumstances, planes can land at Teterboro without a reservation or much advance notice, as long it’s safe. This week, the airport is requiring reservations for all landings and departures (between Wednesday and Tuesday). Some travellers started making reservations as early as October.
Additionally, all incoming aircraft must be registered with one of the airport’s five fixed-based operators (FBO), which provide services like refueling and storage.
Jet Aviation, one of those FBOs, had its first meeting to discuss the Super Bowl about six months ago, Director of Marketing and Online Serivces Michael Arnone said. The full-service business aviation company offers its customers service for every facet of aircraft ownership, from finding pilots to decorating the interior to keeping it fuelled and properly maintained.
This week’s traffic is unusually well planned — “choreographed,” Arnone said. It’s been “one of the most coordinated efforts” among the FBOs, which are usually more competitive with each other over airport space.
Super Bowl Host Committee Volunteers will be on hand to direct arriving travellers. The airport is also beefing up security and storing extra deicing chemicals. This is, after all, a rare cold weather Super Bowl.
“This isn’t a great time of year to be in the Northeast from a weather perspective,” said Stewart of XOJET. That’s true even if the area is spared a storm, which will likely be the case.
Three or four separate plans were drawn up, Arnone said, to cope with various weather events. It’s all about taking as many precautions as possible.
The last major issue the FBOs have to deal with is the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) being enforced by the FAA on Sunday. Between 5 p.m. and one hour after the end of the game, private aircraft won’t be allowed to operate within eight nautical miles of the stadium. And that means no takeoffs or landings at Teterboro.
The TFR won’t mess up arrivals, but it will delay departures. The FAA predicts the “exodus” of aircraft from other airports in the region will start as early as halftime. Teterboro is open 24 hours a day, but says its “voluntary restriction on operations” between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. “will remain in effect.”
That means the bulk of departures will be held for Monday, and Teterboro will be left with an “incredible backlog,” Stewart said. Plans call for six or seven hourly departures for each FBO — one every two minutes — and that number could go up.
But Francisco, a Jet Aviation employee who monitors incoming and departing flights, said operations will be “orderly.”
“We’ve been busier before,” he said.
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