Airline to expand nonstop service from Myrtle Beach to Washington, D.C.

January 8, 2013 

— Travelers will have daily non-stop flights to Washington, D.C., starting next month, creating a more convenient link to Grand Strand courses for golfers in one of the biggest golf markets.

US Airways, which already flies non-stop to Reagan National from Myrtle Beach on the weekends, will start flying the route daily Feb. 1.

The Monday through Friday flights will leave DC at 10:45 a.m. and arrive in Myrtle Beach at 12:25 p.m., then leave Myrtle Beach at 1 p.m. and arrive in DC at 2:29 p.m. The daily nonstop flights will be seasonal through the summer, though US Airways hasn’t set a date for when they will end, US Airways spokesman Davien Anderson said.

“We just saw some demand in the community for daily service,” he said.

Currently, weekday travelers on US Airways must connect in Charlotte, N.C. to fly from DC from Myrtle Beach.

Washington is an important market for the Grand Strand, especially with the number of golfers who come from that area, officials said. Nonstop service to DC has been spotty in recent years, with some airlines offering service only on weekends or flights once a week. Spirit Airlines, which carries half the passengers each year in Myrtle Beach, previously has flown to DC but doesn’t offer that service right now.

The new flights on US Airways are the first daily non-stop flights from Myrtle Beach to DC since 2011.

“It just continues to show the strength of the Myrtle Beach market,” Kirk Lovell, spokesman for Myrtle Beach International Airport, said of the expanded service.

The timing of the flights to begin is ideal -- just before the busy spring golf season kicks in, said Bill Golden, president of marketing group Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, which has worked with airport officials to recruit new air service to Myrtle Beach. The DC-Baltimore area is one of the top golf markets, he said.

“For us, having that daily service satisfies a need that we have there,” Golden said.

Airport officials, along with Grand Strand golf and tourism promoters, stepped up efforts last summer to recruit new airlines and flights after ongoing declines in the numbers of passengers at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

Officials are likely about to find out whether those efforts paid off as airlines typically start announcing at the beginning of the year planned flights and service.

“We hope to land a couple more markets for sure,” Golden said.

Spirit Airlines already has said it would start some of its flights between a month and three months earlier than usual this year aiming to help fill the gap left by Myrtle Beach-based Direct Air, which abruptly stopped flying and filed for bankruptcy in March.

The Spirit flights to Chicago; Detroit; Latrobe, Pa.; Charleston, W.Va.; and Niagara Falls, N.Y., will start in February and early March.

Some of the new flights will begin just as the airport wraps up construction on a $118 million expansion that includes a new terminal, restaurants, rental car building and parking.

The expanded airport is expected to be fully operational Feb. 19.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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