Atlantic City International Airport

The airport is currently home to one carrier, Spirit Airlines, which serves about 70 percent of the airport’s passengers. The other 30 percent of passengers are served by charter flights, as the airport is the third-busiest charter airport in the country. In 2011, the airport reached its peak amount of passengers, serving about 1.5 million inbound and outbound travellers.

Achieving Goals

Unsurprisingly, Atlantic City International Airport has seen a slight decline in volume in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. But according to Executive Director Sam Donelson, the airport’s overall mission has not been adversely impacted.

“The airport sits on 5,000 acres, and you can ultimately fit all of Philadelphia International Airport, Newark International Airport and over half of LaGuardia inside the facility,” Donelson says. “In 1995, we kicked off the master plan for the airport, and we were expecting to grow. We’ve upgraded the electrical facilities, rehabbed the runway, relocated taxiways and wrapped up with the overall expansion of the terminal. The project began in January 2011, and we finished the project in November 2012.”

The expansion of the terminal includes an addition of 75,000 square feet and three new boarding gates. This brings the airport’s total to 10 gates. Two of the three new gates are convertible so they can be used for domestic or international traffic.

“We were faced with a few challenges when it came to customs and border control,” Donelson says. “We had to meet all federal inspection station requirements accordingly.”

Now that the ribbon has been cut on the terminal expansion, Donelson says the changes are helping the airport to set a higher standard. That is because the new terminal puts more of a focus on customers’ needs. This includes simple items that one might take for granted, such as charging stations for electronic devices or high-velocity hand dryers that are next to the sink and help keep bathroom floors from getting wet. The project also added a new baggage claim area.

“With only two belts before, there was always at least one that was at full capacity and couldn't handle the Airbus 320 or Airbus 321,” Donelson says. “Therefore, we replaced them with three high-capacity belts and a baggage information display system that shows flight information and transfers automatically through the software database. We’ve seen improvement after these upgrades.”

Room for Improvement

Although the airport is enjoying the results of its recent initiatives, it continues to prepare for what it hopes will come in the years ahead. Donelson says he wants to bring more airlines and flights to Atlantic City International Airport, and he is working with the local casinos and chamber of commerce to help make it happen. The plan is to market the airport to people in places like Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit in an effort to attract more visitors. Donelson says the airport is also working with existing and potential new carriers to leverage its new federal inspection station in hopes of landing direct international flights to the Caribbean and Latin America. Many flights originating out of Atlantic City are destined for those locations but connect through Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“We plan to continue to expand our services and market ourselves where we would be competitive geographically,” Donelson says. “Our marketing plans include advertising that is directly related to passengers’ demands for more airlines, more times and more flights.”

Although one of Atlantic City International Airport’s most important goals is to bring in more airlines, it is not the airport’s only goal. In addition, the airport wants to become more technologically savvy, bringing in services such as remote baggage check-in and providing the ability to print boarding passes from local hotels. This will allow visitors to spend less time at the airport and more time enjoying their stays.

Technology usage also includes the possibility of using the airport’s fiber-optic network to keep travelers heading to the airport aware of any issues with flights. “There is a fiber-optic backbone that runs through the complex, and it has communication access to the control tower,” Donelson says. “This fiber-optic cable will be connected to the Atlantic City Expressway, Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike to display any problems at the airport via the displays that are located on the highways.”

After many years of working to improve and bolster its image and capabilities, Atlantic City International Airport believes it is on its way to bigger and better things. Donelson believes the airport can put is new facilities and technology to good use, making the airport the best that it can be.

“We will continuing to work with our partners in South Jersey to make sure that people know that this airport is open and welcoming,” he says.

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