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United Operations Scandal Extends to Atlantic City

Questions remain over United’s now-defunct operations out of Atlantic City International Airport.

When United Airlines canceled service to and from Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) last year after only eight months, the airline owed $104,000 to repay public subsidies provided in exchange for its commitment to operate flights to and from the struggling casino town for at least one year.

But the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the airport under a 15-year 2013 agreement between ACY and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and whose chairman at the time was a former United lobbyist, never sought payment.

Stephen Schapiro, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, told AP that going after the money would most likely result in legal costs and could discourage other airlines from coming to Atlantic City.

In November 2013, United Airlines announced it would offer daily nonstop flights to United’s hubs at O’Hare International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. But the airline pulled out of the deal after just eight months.

James P. Fox, Christie’s transportation chief and the chairman of the South Jersey Transportation Authority Fox is a central figure in a federal investigation into United’s interaction with the Port Authority. Fox was a close friend of former Port Authority Chairman David Samson and introduced him to the airline’s former chief executive, Jeff Smisek.

New Jersey’s The Record reports that prosecutors are investigating whether a United flight between Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and a small airport in South Carolina near the Samson’s weekend was established to favor with the chairman in exchange for special treatment for United at New York-area airports.

ACY comprises nearly 5,300 acres and is located in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, 12 miles from Atlantic City and 60 miles from Philadelphia. ACY contributes about $465 million in economic activity to the New Jersey region. The airport employs about 700 people.

On Tuesday morning, ACY’s website listed eight arriving flights by Spirit Airlines from seven Florida cities and Atlanta. The website lists six departing flights from two airlines: Spirit flying five flights to four Florida cities and Atlanta and a Charter Air flight to Plattsburgh, NY.

[Photo: Michael Ein/The Press of Atlantic via AP]

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travellermatt October 3, 2015

Hmmm, public subsidises to support the airlines, airlines not having to pay it back... isn't this what United, AA and Delta say is the 'illegal' money that the middle eastern airlines are using to take over the long haul routes?! :-p