The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is studying the possibility of purchasing or operating Atlantic City International Airport, as well as others, according to a letter sent last week to U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew and others.
“The Port Authority is committed to exploring the potential acquisition or operation of an air terminal outside of the Port District in New Jersey,” said the March 21 letter from Chairman Kevin O’Toole to Van Drew, D-2nd, and fellow South Jersey congressmen Donald Norcross, D-1st; and Andy Kim, D-3rd.
“I have directed staff to immediately undertake a study utilizing industry leading consultants to consider the impact that the Port Authority could have in taking over an airport in New Jersey, including the Atlantic City International Airport,” O’Toole wrote.
The South Jersey Transportation Authority currently owns and operates the Atlantic City airport, which is located in Egg Harbor Township. Spokesman Mark Amorosi has said the SJTA is not in active talks with the Port Authority.
The three congressmen had written a letter to the Port Authority suggesting it purchase ACY, and O’Toole thanked them for their letter.
“You correctly point out that the demand for air travel in the New York/New Jersey region continues to grow, and at the Port Authority we are committed to addressing this growing demand with world-class facilities,” wrote O’Toole.
The Port Authority managed the airport from 2013 to 2017 for a fee of $500,000 a year but failed to bring in sustainable new flights or other services.
But that time coincided with some of the Atlantic City area’s darkest days, as the local economy reeled in the aftermath of a national recession and Hurricane Sandy, and with the closing of several Atlantic City casinos and the eventual state takeover of Atlantic City government.
Since then, the casino industry has grown again, and Atlantic County government has funded the start of the Atlantic County Economic Alliance and the National Aviation Research and Technology Park at the airport.
The alliance is working to diversify the county’s economic base away from over-reliance on tourism and gaming, said county Chief of Staff Howard Kyle, and is working with the county to develop training programs for an aviation workforce.
All that makes for a much better environment to promote the use of the airport, said Kyle.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney supports the idea of the Port Authority purchasing ACY, according to sources close to the Gloucester County Democrat.
Sweeney believes the Atlantic City airport could provide a way to alleviate pressure on the Port Authority’s Newark International Airport; John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia International Airport, some of the busiest airports in the nation.
Sources close to Sweeney said he believed a variety of flight routes that now use Newark could use Atlantic City instead, and that people could either visit the resort on their way to the New York City area or take other transportation to the city from the airport.
But aviation analysts have said it may be more realistic to seek having cargo operations and maintenance operations run from Atlantic City instead of the Port Authority’s other, busier venues.