State and local officials celebrated Tuesday as Atlantic City International Airport officially began offering daily nonstop service to Houston and Chicago through United Airlines.
The addition of United, which now joins Spirit Airlines as one of only two carriers operating at the airport was announced in November, roughly four months after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey decided to takeover the airport and operate it through an agreement with the South Jersey Transportation Authority.
"Today, we begin to fulfill the promise we made to expand air service when we partnered with SJTA last July to provide both increased leisure and business travel options through ACY," Port Authority deputy executive director Deb Gramiccioni said. "Our celebration is even more special because we're sharing it with one of our most trusted business partners, United Airlines, which employs more than 13,000 people in the state of New Jersey."
Don Wright, United's vice president of its Newark hub, added that the service expansion connected Atlantic City to its "global route network."
"These new flights from our two largest hubs will offer more options and convenience for South Jersey travelers and will connect customers from points throughout North America, Asia and Latin America to Atlantic City," Wright said.
"With new flights come new opportunities—for tourism, business and leisure travel, job growth and economic stimulation," U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo added. "By linking Atlantic City International Airport to United Airlines' two largest hub airports, we're creating an environment for additional positive developments."
But with the applause still ringing, one South Jersey lawmaker says even more expansion is needed.
Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Northfield) introduced a resolution Monday that calls for the SJTA and the Port Authority to recruit additional airlines to the airport in order to diversify and expand its service offerings.
Mazzeo said the addition of United is a "major boost" for an airport that has seen the loss of several major carriers in the last 14 years such as AirTran, West Jet, Delta, USAir and Continental.
But now is the time to press for more, Mazzeo says.
"Bringing United Airlines to Atlantic City was a win and we are thankful for them being here," Mazzeo said. "We must continue to build on this momentum and actively seek out other airlines that will expand travel options for travelers in the southern region and help promote Atlantic City and other regional attractions as not only worthy, but accessible tourist destinations that can help boost the region's economy."
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