By Lauren Wanko
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will take over operations of the Atlantic City International Airport starting July 1.
“The Port Authority will be acting as general manager of the airport generally to help us increase air service at Atlantic City International Airport,” said South Jersey Transportation Authority Acting Executive Director Sam Donelson. “We very much want to grow our airline destinations, our routes and bring additional airlines in to the Atlantic City Airport and this relationship with the Port Authority is gonna allow us to do that.”
The South Jersey Transportation Authority has owned and operated the airport since 1992. The board approved the 15-year agreement, which gives the Port Authority the ability to purchase the airport at any time. The SJTA will pay the Port Authority $500,000 a year to operate the airport, which has never turned a profit under SJTA control.
“That is the exact reason why a transportation agency like South Jersey Transportation Authority was created, to take multiple transportation facilities and to have ones that make money offset the losses in another one, all for the benefit of the public good,” Donelson said.
The South Jersey Transportation Authority uses more than $3 million in Atlantic City Expressway toll revenue to subsidize the airport’s $15 million budget.
“We all want the airport to be self sufficient and we’re very hopeful that’s going to happen when we get additional revenue in and primarily that’s gonna take place when we get additional airlines in,” Donelson said.
The airport has one carrier with scheduled service — Spirit Airlines. South Jersey Transportation Authority’s acting executive director says adding more carriers is something the SJTA is discussing with the Port Authority, but they’re not releasing any details on that yet.
The Port Authority’s deputy executive director says adding Atlantic City International Airport has the potential to bring another critical asset to the Port Authority’s already extensive aviation portfolio. Last year the airport served nearly one and a half million passengers. But in the first four months of this year, the airport saw a 28 percent drop in the number of passengers.
“Hurricane Sandy had an affect, there’s no way around that. We are working very closely with our partners in Atlantic City and the shore areas to get the word out that our beaches, especially down here in the southern part of the state and our boardwalks are in fine condition,” Donelson said.
Donelson says Spirit Airlines also cut back on the number of flights they typically offer because of the superstorm, resulting in more than 30 percent fewer available seats. As for the South Jersey Transportation Authority staffers, employees are not expected to lose their jobs under the new agreement.