Myrtle Beach probably has lined up all the new flights it’s going to see this spring and summer.
Last week’s announcement of new service by WestJet from Toronto to Myrtle Beach is probably the last one as the tourism-driven Grand Strand starts easing into the warmer-weather travel season.
WestJet’s arrival in May is the only new carrier added to MYR this year, but several existing airlines including Spirit Airlines, US Airways and Delta have either added new destinations or more flights to cities they already serve.
“Everything is pretty much set,” said Kirk Lovell, spokesman for Myrtle Beach International Airport. “We have a ton of new capacity this year. We want to make sure we are successful with what we have.”
The boosted service aims to help make up for the loss of a carrier and drops in seat capacity at the Myrtle Beach airport last year. Myrtle Beach-based Direct Air abruptly stopped flying and filed for bankruptcy in March. And other carriers cut destinations or trimmed the frequency of flights to others last year, leaving Myrtle Beach with fewer seats to fill.
Those losses resulted in a 16 percent drop in the number of passengers flying out of Myrtle Beach in 2012 compared to the record-breaking year in 2011.
Airport officials say the new service lined up for this year should help reverse those declines. About 715 flights and 52,585 arriving seats have been added during January through June, not including WestJet, the airport says.
Some of the seasonal flights that typically start later in the spring kicked in last week.
Spirit’s daily nonstop flights to Chicago, Detroit and Latrobe, Pa., started Thursday, and two weekly flights to Niagara Falls, N.Y., started Friday. Porter Airlines resumed its spring-early summer flights to Toronto City Centre in Canada on Thursday. They will run through May 20.
Other new service on tap:
• WestJet will start flying twice a week from Myrtle Beach to Toronto Pearson International Airport in Canada on May 2.
• Spirit Airlines, which carries nearly half the passengers at the airport each year, added two destinations – Philadelphia and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, both starting April 25. Spirit will start two weekly flights to Charleston, W.Va., March 2 then increase to three a week starting April 25.
• US Airways expanded its weekend-only service to Washington Reagan to daily earlier this month, and will increase its service to Philadelphia starting in March.
• Delta will add seasonal nonstop service to Boston in June.
The airport still hasn’t set an opening date for its new terminal, but crews are busy putting the finishing touches on the $118 million project.
The expansion is expected to be complete March 19, about a month later than originally planned because of delays in delivery of materials after Hurricane Sandy.
Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at email@example.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.