MYRTLE BEACH — Vision Airlines, which has been flying to Myrtle Beach for less than a month, has canceled service to two of the destinations it serves from Myrtle Beach because the demand wasn’t there.
The airline is dropping Toledo, Ohio, and Nashville, Tenn., the company said Friday. The last Toledo flights will be June 29, while the final Nashville flight will be July 7, said Bill Maloney, Vision Airlines’ director of business development. Passengers with tickets after those dates should contact Vision for either a refund or tickets on other Vision flights, he said.
“There just wasn’t enough sales,” Maloney said. “Ultimately, the markets didn’t support the flights. It is not the best use of our planes.”
Vision will continue to serve six cities from Myrtle Beach: Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, all in Ohio; Indianapolis; Louisville and Springfield, Ill. The strongest of those markets have been Louisville, Springfield, Cincinnati and Cleveland, Maloney said, adding that the airline worked with Myrtle Beach officials to pick markets based on visitor numbers and interest.
“While we are disappointed to learn that Vision Airlines will no longer continue direct service from Toledo or Nashville, we are encouraged by the fact that the airline is confident in the six remaining markets servicing the Myrtle Beach area,” Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a written statement, adding that developing nonstop air service is a key to growing tourism along the Grand Strand.
Vision started flying to Myrtle Beach on May 31, picking up some routes that were previously served by Direct Air until March when the Myrtle Beach-based carrier filed for bankruptcy. Vision’s remaining service in Myrtle Beach is seasonal, set to end Oct. 31.
“We are pleased with the trends in the other markets,” Maloney said. “We remain committed to Myrtle Beach.”
The airline didn’t have much time to promote the flights, announcing in early May that it would start serving Myrtle Beach then beginning a few weeks later, Myrtle Beach airport director Mike La Pier said, adding that Vision’s overall passenger numbers have been improving.
“It takes time for service to build and for people to recognize it,” La Pier said. “It takes some ramp-up time.”
Some travelers who have flown on Vision Airlines to or from Myrtle Beach haven’t been impressed so far. Several complained about a mixup Monday that left them waiting all day for their flights to take off.
Pete Myer of Thornville, Ohio was one of the travelers stuck in Myrtle Beach on Monday waiting for the flight to Columbus, Ohio to take off. The flight was supposed to leave Myrtle Beach at 7:30 a.m., but ended up not taking off until well into the evening, with Myer finally arriving in Ohio about 10 p.m.
Myer described a day full of confusion and misinformation, including getting different take-off times from Vision officials, different reasons why the plane hadn’t made it to Myrtle Beach, having to spend $66 on cab fare because he already had turned in his rental car and even more frustration after he boarded the plane that evening assuming it would soon be taking off.
“We sit on the tarmac for an hour -- it’s supposed to be an hour flight,” Myer said, adding that he even called Vision Airlines customer service while he sat in the plane, which wasn’t air conditioned, trying to get answers.
He said he still hasn’t heard from Vision, with the frustration over Monday’s mishap growing in recent days.
“We won’t fly again with them, period,” Myer said Friday. “It’s just the frustration and anger grows day after day, and it just takes a toll on you.”
Maloney told The Columbus Dispatch that the delay was caused by a mechanical failure.
“We found replacement planes and got the passengers where they needed to be,” he told the newspaper. “Our customer-service people worked around the clock to make sure people got where they needed to be.”
Myer is a frequent traveler to Myrtle Beach and said he was initially glad to see nonstop service return on Vision after Direct Air’s demise.
“It’s unfortunate because we wanted them to succeed,” he said of Vision, “but not at a cost like this.”
Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296.