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As Super Bowl nears, new traffic jam threat looms over New Jersey

A passenger watches the Newark Liberty International Airport from the airtrain station in Newark, New Jersey November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Edua
A passenger watches the Newark Liberty International Airport from the airtrain station in Newark, New Jersey November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Edua

By Victoria Cavaliere

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wealthy football fans headed to next month's Super Bowl might find themselves scrambling to find parking for their private jets, with slots at a small airport near the stadium in New Jersey rapidly filling up, transportation officials said Thursday.

The National Football League's championship game on February 2 is expected to draw many fans who are arranging private or charter flights into and out of the notoriously crowded airspace around New York City.

The game is at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, near New York City.

With game tickets ranging from $500 to $2,600 a seat, the Super Bowl draws the type of clientele that are likely to fly by private jet. In comparison, a ticket to a regular season game at the stadium started at $110.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects more than 1,200 private and charter planes to fly into the region in the week leading up to the game.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates transportation facilities in the region, said it was adding staff and volunteers to welcome visitors at the area's three major airports -- Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia.

At the smaller Teterboro Airport, just 2 miles from the stadium, the Port Authority has implemented a special reservation system for private aircraft to help manage the flow of air traffic, the agency said.

Teterboro Airport has space to park more than 600 planes, said Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico, but reservations for those spaces are going fast.

"We're definitely busy," said Christie Emden of Atlantic Aviation, one of five companies at Teterboro that park, fuel and maintain private jets. "I can't even begin to tell you how full we are at this point ... It's a work in progress."

The private aviation company NetJets, owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, said that so far 190 flights have been booked specifically for Super Bowl travel.

"We will probably see that number grow," said Tom Hoyt, a NetJets spokesman. "People who fly privately often don't make plans until a couple days before."

Hoyt said he was confident all NetJets flights would be accommodated into the region, but a bigger concern could come as travelers leave in the hours after the game.

The FAA said it had established two no-fly zones for the day of the Super Bowl. The first will encompass a 1 nautical-mile radius around MetLife Stadium from noon to 4 p.m. EST. The second will consist of a larger radius, a 30 nautical-mile ring lasting from 4 p.m. EST until one hour after the game concludes.

Traffic in the area has been under national scrutiny recently as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie faces a scandal that his top aides ordered up traffic jams on a heavily traveled bridge to New York in an act of apparent political retribution.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Amanda Kwan)

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