Starting next spring, United Airlines will begin non-stop service from Chicago and Houston to Atlantic City.

United Airlines (Flickr User Aero Icarus)

United CEO Jeff Smisek made the announcement Thursday with Gov. Chris Christie looking on at Newark Liberty International Airport.

“For many years Atlantic City was the Golden Goose for New Jersey,  everyone benefited from it, but the Goose got sick and we need to get it healthy again,” said Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) during a press conference at Newark Liberty Airport.

The additional service is one of the seaside gambling resort's most pressing needs as its local market continues to decline under pressure from casinos in neighboring states.

Sen. President Steve Sweeney at United Airlines announcement (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

Sweeney said when work began on a casino district in Atlantic City a few years ago, everyone realized that “we need to make it convenient for people to enjoy their time there- it’s cleaner, it’s brighter, but we needed a partner to fly in, a real partner."

He said the direct flights will bring more convention business to Atlantic City, which will help to generate revenue for the entire South Jersey region. He also said it will help to alleviate congested air space in the Philadelphia and New York areas.


(The Associated Press Contributed to this report.)