In another blow to Atlantic City, United Airlines will end flights in and out of Atlantic City International Airport on Dec. 3, saying the service to Chicago and Houston did not meet expectations.

United, based in Chicago, arrived to great fanfare eight months ago - celebratory balloons, beach umbrellas, and praise from officials including Gov. Christie - when it launched daily nonstop service April 1 to Chicago's O'Hare and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airports.

United was the first major carrier to begin new passenger service in several years at the airport in Egg Harbor Township.

The airline, which operates an international hub at Newark Liberty International Airport, said in a statement Friday, "As a partner in our hub state's economic-development efforts, we agreed to test the Atlantic City market by reentering it earlier this year."

But the routes were not successful.

"In every market we serve, we continually review demand for the service," United said, "and our Atlantic City routes are no longer sustainable."

Airport officials touted the service as important to bringing more visitors and business to Atlantic City. But the seaside gambling resort has lost four of its 12 casinos this year, and a fifth may close next month.

The nonstop flights were part of an effort by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, to bring in new passenger service to Atlantic City.

When United leaves, only Spirit Airlines will have commercial flights out of Atlantic City, mostly to Florida and other southern destinations.

AirTran Airways ceased operations in 2012 at the airport, formerly run by the South Jersey Transportation Authority.

Atlantic City International has a 10-gate terminal and underwent a multimillion-dollar expansion and renovations in recent years to handle more air travel.

To promote business for the casinos and Atlantic City as a resort destination, a coalition of tourism agencies in Atlantic City launched a $1 million marketing campaign to promote the United flights, which used 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft.

lloyd@phillynews.com

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