A Florida firm has been selected by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to lead a study that will help determine the authority’s potential involvement in Atlantic City International Airport’s operations.

QED Airport & Aviation Consultants, of Amelia Island, Fla., recently met with the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the airport in Egg Harbor Township, and the Federal Aviation Administration, which owns much of the airport’s property.

“It’s not a secret that the Port Authority is interested in seeing if it makes sense to explore a relationship relating to the airport,” SJTA acting Executive Director Sam Donelson said.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, the SJTA entered into an executive session to discuss the New York City-based Port Authority’s study. The announcement of executive session marked the first time the SJTA has discussed the Port Authority’s involvement during a public meeting.

In September, the Port Authority, which also operates Kennedy, LaGuardia, Teterboro and Newark airports, voted to spend as much as $3 million on a feasibility study that would analyze the legal, financial, environmental and business effects of taking over Atlantic City International. Legislation enacted in 2007 intended to help ease congestion in overcrowded airspace allows the authority to establish an airport outside its jurisdiction in New York and New Jersey.

The Port Authority took over operations at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y., later that year, yet reports show that since the takeover, air traffic has dropped significantly. A New Jersey airport has not yet been selected.

Details on the status of the study involving Atlantic City International are few.

The SJTA would not elaborate on discussions. The FAA confirmed that a meeting took place Jan. 14 during which William J. Hughes Technical Center officials briefed consultants and led them on a tour. The FAA would not address questions about the nature of the discussions.

The Port Authority has not returned multiple calls and emails sent over several weeks requesting information on the status of the study.

In December, the authority denied a Freedom of Information Act request from The Press of Atlantic City for a copy of all solicitations and responses regarding the feasibility study. A request for all correspondence sent or received by Port Authority board members, Executive Director Patrick Foye and Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni regarding Atlantic City International also was denied.

QED Airport & Aviation Consultants is led by Ronald Price, a professional engineer with 40 years of experience in airport and aviation consulting, according to documents produced by his firm.

Reached Wednesday, Price confirmed that his firm was chosen for the study but said he could not elaborate on the process.

His firm has produced similar studies both nationally and internationally.

Wantage Township in Sussex County hired QED in 2009 to investigate the possibility of purchasing Sussex Airport after its current owner pleaded guilty to embezzling funds from the FAA.

That 81-page study determined it was feasible for the township to take over operations and laid out steps for acquisition.

Contact Jennifer Bogdan:

609-272-7239

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