The air service options at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) have not kept pace with economic growth in the region, so it wants to undertake “an aggressive and strategic air service development marketing initiative.”

The initiative received a major boost Monday when the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded ACY $400,000 in grant money from its Small Community Air Service Development Program.

According to the grant application submitted by the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which runs the airport, the grant will fund a substantial portion of the $580,000 program designed to support a broader initiative to expand air services in the region.

“The goal is to better position ACY and its service offerings to adequately meet the needs of the region through ultimately sustaining and expanding the air service footprint,” SJTA stated in its application. The authority will partner with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the private Atlantic County Economic Alliance.

The authority described the current air service as flat to declining in frequency, capacity, nonstop options, and passenger utilization, which it blamed on the absence of airline and air service options. This has created an “artificial ceiling” of air traffic demand, leading to high passenger leakage rates to neighboring airports.

ACY was one of 18 grant recipients in 18 states that received a total of $12.2 million, according to the DOT. In total, the department received 57 applications from 30 states.