There were only 19 passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 4161 from Chicago when it touched down at Atlantic City International Airport, but they were greeted like Atlantic City saviors.
Two fire trucks showered the jet with a ceremonial spray of water and the airport terminal’s baggage-claim area was decorated with balloons, beach umbrellas, salt water taffy and one of the Boardwalk’s iconic rolling chairs, according to the local Press of Atlantic City.
The celebration marked a new day for the airport as United started nonstop service to Atlantic City from its Chicago and Houston hubs. United is just the second scheduled airline, which currently flies to the airport.
But Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, speaking at the celebration, said officials will make an announcement in May about another carrier that will fly from four cities. He provided no other details.
United’s arrival marks the first efforts by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to expand flights at the airport since it took over operations last July.
“Bringing in a world-class airline like United is what we came here to do,” said Deb Gramiccioni, the Port Authority’s deputy executive director.
Officials hope the flights from Chicago and Houston will draw more business travelers and over-night guests to Atlantic City.
Guardian also took the first outbound flight to Chicago as part of a delegation of Atlantic City government and tourism officials that was scheduled to meet with Chicago business representatives and the media.
Guardian said the city is trying to recruit more conventions and tourists. The delegation will promote the resort has a vibrant restaurant, entertainment and beach scene, in addition to the casinos, according to The Press.
A coalition of government agencies and the casino industry is also planning a marketing campaign to promote United’s service. The state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority will contribute $1 million to the campaign.