United Airlines is ending service to and from Atlantic City after just eight months of serving the East Coast gambling resort.
The company issued a statement Friday saying the service between Atlantic City International Airport and Chicago and Houston is "no longer sustainable."
It was just the latest blow to the struggling seaside resort, which has seen four of its 12 casinos go out of business so far this year, with a fifth likely to close next month. Flights to and from the airport began in April and were hailed by officials including Gov. Chris Christie as a key step toward bringing more visitors and business to Atlantic City.
"We're disappointed that the service from Atlantic City International Airport didn't meet our expectations," United spokeswoman Mary Clark said. "As a partner in our hub state's economic development efforts, we agreed to test the Atlantic City market by re-entering it earlier this year. In every market we serve, we continually review demand for the service and our Atlantic City routes are no longer sustainable."
The airline says service to and from Atlantic City International, which actually is located in nearby Egg Harbor Township, will end Dec. 3.
Word that the service is ending comes almost a year after it was announced with great fanfare. "United's new Atlantic City service will drive business, tourism and economic development throughout the southern part of the state," the airline's president and CEO Jeff Smisek said at the time.
Christie added, "It speaks volumes that a company like United Airlines recognizes the full and future potential of Atlantic City International Airport."
His spokesman, Michael Drewniak, said Friday the state hopes to attract another airline to serve Atlantic City.
"There will be ups and downs in the process of reinvigorating Atlantic City, but we hope to work with air carriers on new opportunities," he said.
The resort is in its eighth straight year of plunging casino revenue and job losses brought on by increasing competition from casinos in neighboring states, two major storms in recent years and a sluggish economic recovery.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC