EXPANDING AIR SERVICE TO SOUTH JERSEY
October 21, 2005
Flying to and from South Jersey is not as easy as it should be. Available flights in and out of Atlantic City International Airport are limited, with only Delta's Comair and Spirit Airlines currently providing regional service to the facility. Thus, for extensive itineraries, travelers must navigate through highway traffic en route to either the Philadelphia International Airport or the Newark Liberty International Airport. This is certainly not the easy access to our nation's aviation network for South Jersey residents and visitors deserve. Alternatives and opportunities, however, are being explored.
Recently, I learned of the South Jersey Transportation Authority's (SJTA) interest in establishing a regional partnership with the Philadelphia International Airport, helping to relieve congestion at the major hub and increasing service to the Atlantic City International Airport. As a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, I recognize the vital role airports play in linking our communities to the nation's aviation network and their critical contributions to our regional economy. I believe this idea could develop into an innovative, positive partnership that would increase options and opportunities in air travel to communities across Southern New Jersey and around Philadelphia.
This plan would also increase tourism to the area. According to the Atlantic City Convention and Visitor's Authority, tourism contributed $6.5 billion of economic revenue in 2004 to the greater Atlantic City area. Tourists arriving to the area by way of flying totaled 1,050,000 and, including all forms of transportation, visitors to Atlantic City last year increased by about 1 million to over 33 million. Investing now in raising the region's visibility as a vacation destination and improving the area's accessibility for visitors is critical to continued growth of the local and regional economy.
While it is economically beneficial to expand the airport's capacity, we must ensure that overall security of the aviation network and its passengers is not compromised. Working in cooperation with the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), I was successful in securing a federal grant of more than $2.9 million for increased passenger and baggage screening operations at the Atlantic City International Airport. In fact, ground-breaking for the new security facility took place last week after SJTA received approval by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on their comprehensive security plan for the airport. The TSA has also agreed to maintain an additional passenger screening lane during peak travel times and seasons.
Additionally, I was pleased that the FAA agreed to build and operate an Instrument Landing System on the secondary runway at Atlantic City International Airport, thus ensuring jets can land safely during poor weather conditions. Federal resources and commitment are important in ensuring safety in air travel to and from our local airports, and I will continue to support future construction and expansion projects that increase capacity and ensure safety of consumers.
Recognizing the significant economic and job creation opportunities that regional airports present, it is my hope that the Atlantic City International Airport continues to expand its facilities and services to meet the increased demand from consumers who wish to visit South Jersey. I will continue to work with SJTA, the FAA, and state and federal authorities to increase tourism to the region while ensuring the security of passengers.