The New York-New Jersey Port Authority will examine whether New Jersey's Atlantic City Airport could be expanded to ease strain at crowded New York City-area airports.
The Port Authority's board approved a USD$3 million study of financial, legal and environmental issues involved in taking over operations at the airport, which served 1.4 million passengers last year, it said.
The Port Authority has four airports, which are among the nation's busiest, handling 106 million passengers in 2011.
David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority, told reporters after a board meeting that it was premature to discuss how a transaction might be structured.
Critics say the Port Authority's failure to work out how to increase flights at its airports and improve service is limiting the region's economic growth.
Atlantic City is about 130 miles south of New York City; the airport is owned by the South Jersey Transportation Authority. A spokesman for the state's Department of Transportation said the airport "has untapped capacity," noting that it has stayed open when flights at Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy airports have been cancelled because of bad weather.
In 2007, New Jersey and New York agreed that each state should get one more airport. That year, the Port Authority took over operations at Stewart Airport, located about 66 miles north of New York, and announced a 10-year, USD$500 million expansion plan.