United Airlines will begin to offer daily nonstop flights between Atlantic City and its two largest hubs in Chicago and Houston, the carrier announced today.
The airline, New Jersey's largest, said it will start service April 1 from Atlantic City International Airport, allowing passengers from the resort to reach the hubs directly and connect to points throughout the Midwest, the western U.S. and abroad.
The news is a clear win for the airport and for Atlantic City, where state officials have pushed hard to change its profile from gambling hub to tourism destination.
The service was unveiled today at Newark Liberty International Airport, where Gov. Chris Christie joined United CEO Jeff Smisek at the airline's sprawling hub there.
"It speaks volumes that a company like United Airlines recognizes the full and future potential of Atlantic City International Airport," Christie said in a prepared statement. "The decision to bring air service to the seaside resort opens Atlantic City and ACY to the world while expanding travel service opportunities for the people of the South Jersey region."
The airport was taken over this summer by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after being operated by the South Jersey Transportation Authority. But the airport had been in the midst of down year to that point, reporting a 25 percent drop in the number of scheduled service passengers for the first half of 2013.
Its lone operator at the time, Spirit Airlines, had reportedly cut service.
The United Service will provide daily nonstop flights to Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the airline said.
From Chicago, United's flight to Atlantic City will depart at 8:10 a.m. daily, arriving at 11:17 a.m., while the return flight will depart Atlantic City at 11:52 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 1:10 p.m., the airline said in a news release.
From Houston, United's flight to Atlantic City will depart at 7 p.m. daily, arriving at 11:20 p.m. The return flight will depart Atlantic City at 6 a.m. and arrive in Houston at 8:49 a.m.
In a statement, Smisek said Christie has fostered a business-friendly climate that has enabled New Jersey "to remain a critical hub for global aviation. United's new Atlantic City service will drive business, tourism and economic development throughout the southern part of the state."