Atlantic City International Airport was originally established in 1942 as a Naval Air Station on 4,312 acres leased from Atlantic City. In 1958, the lease was transferred to what is now the Federal Aviation Administration. The property was sold to the federal government for $55,000 to provide a site for aviation test facilities but with a reverter clause, giving the city the right to buy the acreage back for the same price should the federal government cease to use it.
The city retained 84 acres, where the civil aviation terminal and related support facilities now stand. Scheduled airline service, however, was suspended from 1971 to 1978, during which time the FAA Tech Center's engineering and developmental division occupied the terminal. Service by USAir, the former Allegheny Airlines, began October 29, 1978, in part of the terminal.
The South Jersey Transportation Authority was created in 1991 by – and operates as an instrumentality of the State of New Jersey pursuant to – the South Jersey Transportation Act (Chapter 252 of the Laws of New Jersey of 1991, as amended and supplemented). The SJTA is the successor to the New Jersey Expressway Authority and the Atlantic County Transportation Authority. On September 24, 1992, under terms of the Act, the SJTA acquired the Civil Terminal Area from the City of Atlantic City consisting of approximately 84 acres in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
The Airport is operated by Av Ports, as successor to American Port Services under a Use and Occupancy Agreement with the SJTA.
The SJTA also acquired the City of Atlantic City's reversionary interest in approximately 4,312 acres of the Airport which the City had sold to the U.S. government and which the FAA administers. The reversionary interest means that ownership of the property may revert to the SJTA is the FAA determines that it has no use of the airport purposes. Upon such reversion, the SJTA must agree to operate the Airport as a public airport for the useful life of the Airport facilities.
The Civil Terminal Building was constructed in the early 1960s. A ticketing/waiting area was added in 1989 and a second-floor expansion was completed in May of 1996.
On April 15, 1998, the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center (FAATC) transferred operational control of the airport to the SJTA. At the same time, the FAATC also entered into a fifty-year lease with the SJTA for approximately 2,200 acres – including all runways, taxiways, and commercial airport aprons, as well as development and environmental mitigation areas.
In February 2004, the FAA issued a Record of Decision for terminal and airfield projects at ACY. This ROD included Terminal Area Development, Auxiliary Area Development, Hotel/Conference Center, Instrument Landing System upgrade and Holding Aprons. In recent years, the SJTA has completed a taxiway relocation project, constructed a state-of-the art-baggage screening facility, erected a $26.3 million, six-story parking garage, and has begun a $2.5 million terminal renovations project to further improve the airport.
In June 2004, a 300-seat holding room and new administrative offices were completed.
In 2008, a 1,400-space parking garage was completed, housing all rental agencies and providing convenient parking just steps from the terminal. The completion of the parking garage has freed up space in the terminal for significant new upgrades.