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Guide to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Originally called Newark Metropolitan Airport and later renamed Newark International Airport (EWR), the airport is now officially titled Newark Liberty International Airport but is most often simply referred to as Newark Airport. Located on the boundary line between the cities of Newark and Elizabeth, Newark is an international airport and an important gateway to Europe, Asia, Oceania and South America.

Newark is one of three airports serving the New York area (the others being John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia) and lies just under 4 miles (6.4 km) to the south of Newark city and approximately 9 miles (14.4 km) southwest of Manhattan in New York.

The airport code for Newark is EWR which may seem a bit nonsensical as these codes usually mirror the airport's name such as LAF for Lafayette or OAK for Oakland. However, when designation codes were introduced by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) any codes starting with the letter N were reserved for the U.S. Navy and, consequently, Newark adopted the second two letters (EW) and added the R from the back end of the city's name.

New Airfield for Newark

In the early 1920s there were two operating airfields in the Newark area: Heller Field and Hadley Field which was a base for the U.S. airmail services. The U.S. Postal Service, however, was not happy with the location and felt that an airfield closer to the city of New York would be more suitable for purpose and also more cost-effective. The desire for a new airport was mirrored by other notable businesses and, in 1927, plans for a new airfield were drawn up. Construction began in mid-1928 and included reclaiming 68 acres of marshland and raising the land height to six feet above sea level to prevent possible flooding.

The new airfield boasted a 1,600 foot long paved runway and when it was officially opened in October of 1928 and christened Newark Metropolitan Airport it became the first major airport serving the greater New York area.

In 1930, Newark became the first airport in the United States to erect an air traffic control tower and an airport weather station and followed up this notable feat in 1952 when runway lights were installed thus allowing the first night flights in America to begin operating. Despite criticism of the airport's design from some quarters, Newark quickly became the world's busiest commercial airport throughout the 1930's until nearby LaGuardia opened its doors in late 1939.

Setbacks in EWR Development

The airport suffered a major setback to its commercial activities when it was commandeered by the United States Army for the duration of World War II and was closed to civil and commercial aircraft. Business returned to Newark Airport immediately following the end of the war when it was leased to the Port of New York Authority who took over operations and invested heavily in major developments including the building of:

  • New hangars
  • A new terminal building
  • A new runway

Despite the significant investment leading to an increase in passenger numbers and cargo volume, Newark Airport was soon to suffer a disastrous run of bad luck with three air accidents in just two months.

  • December 1951 - A Tampa-bound Miami Airlines C-46 loses a cylinder on take-off, crashes into the town of Elizabeth and kills 56 people.
  • January 1952 - On approach to Newark, an American Airlines CV-240 also strikes the town of Elizabeth killing seven people on the ground and all 23 people on board the aircraft.
  • February 1952 - Once again, the town of Elizabeth suffers disaster when a DC-6 crashes after take-off killing four people on the ground and 29 of the 63 people on board.

Unsurprisingly, the airport was closed for months while investigations were carried out and flights did not resume until later in 1952 but recovering from the disasters was a slow process with passengers now wary of flying in or out of Newark.

Commercial Developments and Expansion

As recently as the early 1970s, Newark was still a moderately sized and underused airport but this changed when international flights began operating out of the airport. Now renamed as Newark International Airport, a major overhaul of the airport got under way:

  • Terminals A and B were opened in 1973
  • Building was completed on Terminal C although it was not used until the mid 1980's

Commercial expansion continued in the 1980s when People Express elected to utilise the North Terminal as its terminal and corporate offices in 1981, Virgin Atlantic began operating flights to London in 1984 and Federal Express (FedEx) opened a second hub at Newark in 1986. Ten years later, in 1996, the airport opened a monorail system which connected all terminals, parking lots and car rental facilities and later expanded to connect with the newly-opened Newark Airport rail station.

Airport Terminals and Associated Airlines

There are three terminals, designated A, B and C, at Newark Airport with three concourses at each and a grand total of 121 gates.

Terminal A

Terminal A is reserved solely for domestic flights and Canadian flights operated by JetBlue. Other airlines based in this terminal include: Air Canada, Air Canada Express, American Airlines, American Eagle, Southwest Airlines and some short-haul United Express flights.

Terminal B

Many of the biggest foreign airline companies use Terminal B which also caters to JetBlue international flights. Some airlines based in this terminal are: Alaska Airlines, Aer Lingus, Air India, Air China, Allegiant Air, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, El Al, Elite Airways, Emirates, LOT, Lufthansa, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Air Portugal and some United international arrivals.

Terminal C

The newest of the terminal buildings at Newark Airport, Terminal C is the exclusive domain of United Airlines and its associated carrier United Express.

Work is currently in progress to redevelop and upgrade Terminal A which is expected to be completed in 2022. United Airlines will be the dominant presence at the newly refurbished terminal although Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue are also expected to transfer their operations over the coming months and years.

Getting Around Newark Airport

There are three methods of getting from one terminal to another at EWR:

AirTrain - The AirTrain is a free service between terminals.

Shuttle Bus - A shuttle bus, operated by United Airlines, operates between Terminals A and C which is a free service and runs on a regular schedule.

Walking - Newark is a compact airport and all terminals are easily reached on foot with all gates within a ten minute walk in any terminal.

Security and Immigration

Security and customs checks at all American airports is tight and Newark Airport is no different. While U.S. citizens have little difficulty in passing through customs and security checkpoints the same is not true for visiting foreign nationals.

The United States operates a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which is applicable to citizens of forty countries including the United Kingdom. Although an American visa is no longer required citizens of VWP countries must possess an e-passport and an ESTA.

ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and is basically an electronic form of visa which grants the holder permission to travel to the United States. The ESTA application process collects personal information and biographic details about the applicant before a decision is made whether to grant or deny the ESTA.

An ESTA will be granted in the majority of cases although applications will be denied if the applicant:

  • Has visited Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia or Yemen since 2011.
  • Is a national of North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
  • Has a criminal record or a recent arrest for serious crimes.

The ESTA is digitally linked to the holder's passport and although it is necessary for travel to the United States it does not automatically guarantee a right of entry as this decision rests with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at the relevant air- or seaport.

There are nine security checkpoints (three per terminal) in Newark Airport but customs and immigration checks are only to be found in Terminals B and C as these are the international flight centers.

Transfers and Ground Transportation

Because the airport is so close to the city of Newark (and not too far from New York), transport options to and from EWR are plentiful and regular.


The Newark Liberty Airport Station is connected to the airport via the AirTrain and from this station connections can be made with Amtrak trains to New York, Philadelphia and other towns in the north east. The New Jersey Transit trains also run from Newark to the Airport station and connections can also be made to Penn Station in Manhattan.


New Jersey Transit runs several bus routes to various parts of Newark Airport and there is an Express Bus service to the heart of New York with the bus from Terminal A stopping at Grand Central Station.


Shared and private shuttle rides can be booked on arrival at any of the terminals.


Taxi stands are located outside every terminal although fares to New York City can be fairly expensive at over fifty dollars not including any tolls or tip.

Ride Services

Only approved ride services (Uber, Lyft) are permitted to operate services to or from Newark Airport.