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Port Authority eyeing Atlantic City airport

September 21, 2012 6:18:18 AM PDT
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is considering taking over operation of Atlantic City International Airport to help reduce air traffic congestion at New York-area airports, officials said Thursday.

The agency announced Thursday that it has authorized $3 million for a feasibility study that will look at financial, legal and environmental issues.

The Port Authority operates the New York area's three major airports - Newark, JFK and LaGuardia - in addition to Teterboro Airport in northern New Jersey and Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y.

Newark, JFK and LaGuardia annually handle more than 100 million passengers. Delays at any of the three often have a ripple effect on air travel throughout the United States.

Legislation in 2007 in both New York and New Jersey empowered the Port Authority to establish one additional air terminal in each state. The Port Authority acquired an interest in Stewart Airport in 2007.

Atlantic City's airport is operated by the South Jersey Transportation Authority. A spokesman for the authority declined to comment on the Port Authority's plans Thursday.

"Right now the airport is serving a great many passengers from central New Jersey, not to mention southern New Jersey and Atlantic City," Port Authority chairman David Samson said. "It could relieve pressure at Newark, and it could be an independent generator of income for us, through passenger and air cargo. It's potentially a very valuable asset."

Samson said there is no set timeline for when the study would be completed.

The Port Authority also announced Thursday that it approved a study that will examine the possibility of extending the PATH rail line to Newark Liberty Airport. Currently the line ends at Newark Penn Station and passengers switch to NJ Transit trains to reach the airport.

Residents of Manhattan make up about 15 percent of air passengers at Newark, the Port Authority said. Residents of New York's other four boroughs and other parts of New York make up another 9 percent.

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