The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - which controls the overcrowded LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports - may very well be able to exert some leverage on airlines to get them to bring more flights to Atlantic City International Airport.

That appears to be the rationale behind the Port Authority's takeover of operations at ACY, which is currently controlled by the South Jersey Transportation Authority.

More flights certainly would be good for Atlantic City and the region. Better air service has long been seen as crucial to the resort's success. But several airlines have tried and failed to develop a market for more flights into and out of Atlantic City.

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Right now, this deal seems to involve little more than wishful thinking - at least on the surface.

And the Port Authority's $3 million study that supposedly made the case for a takeover was ... well, kind of lame. The conclusion: It would be good if ACY had more flights to popular destinations. You think?

Indeed, the $3 million study at least conceded the obvious: "The opportunities for growth depend on a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the control of airport operators."

Exactly ... that's been the problem all along.

The study did go on to say that the Port Authority "was in the best position to exploit those opportunities." But again, everyone involved in this deal is a little vague about how exactly that will unfold.

One thing is clear, though: This is New Jersey, where things are never what they seem. And this takeover of the Atlantic City airport is a perfect example.

Currently, Camden County Democratic powerbroker George Norcross controls the SJTA. The Port Authority, at least on the New Jersey side, is a Republican bastion.

Norcross and Gov. Chris Christie have a classic strange-bedfellows relationship. Ostensibly opponents, they clearly have struck several deals beneficial to both - most notably the merger of Rutgers-Camden and the University of Medicine and Dentistry into Rowan University. The plan was pushed by Norcross to benefit Cooper University Hospital, which will partner with a new Rowan medical school created by the merger. Norcross chairs the board at Cooper.

So back to Atlantic City's airport. Christie clearly wants the Port Authority to take over ACY - or it wouldn't be happening. Norcross apparently has agreed to the takeover - he would presumably lose clout and patronage possibilities at the SJTA - or it wouldn't be happening.

Or maybe the whole thing is Norcross' idea. After all, it was his ally, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, who first brought up the possibility of a takeover.

Who knows? At some point, it will become clear. But right now, all that's clear is that Atlantic City International Airport could benefit from more flights, and the Port Authority is supposedly somehow going to make that happen.

Let's hope.

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