MYRTLE BEACH — Airlines have started scaling back service to Myrtle Beach as the busy summer tourism season begins to wind down.
Allegiant Air, which serves Myrtle Beach with summer flights to four destinations, was among the first to scale back its seasonal service. It ended its summer flights to Fort Wayne, Ind., on Aug. 14, saying demand for those flights eases up earlier than Allegiant’s three other destinations from Myrtle Beach.
And Spirit Airlines, which carries roughly half the passengers into Myrtle Beach each year, will end its flights to Charleston, W.Va.; Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Dallas-Fort Worth on Tuesday, spokeswoman Misty Pinson said.
Most carriers scale back or end flights to Myrtle Beach after the busy summer tourism season. Myrtle Beach travelers are used to the end-of-summer cutbacks as demand to the destination drops off.
“As our destination moves toward the end of the 2013 season, airlines will begin implementing previously scheduled seat capacity and frequency thinning at MYR,” airport spokesman Kirk Lovell said in an email. “The scheduled adjustments are strategically and methodically completed by airlines as they [maximize] the utilization of assets.”
Allegiant’s flights to its other three destinations from Myrtle Beach -- Allentown, Pa.; Huntington, W.Va., and Youngstown, Ohio -- will continue until Sept. 18, spokeswoman Lindsay Hernquist said in an email. Flights to all four destinations are scheduled to resume in April, she said.
Spirit has another round of seasonal cuts starting Nov. 6, when service will end to Detroit; Chicago O’Hare; Baltimore-Washington; Philadelphia; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Latrobe/Pittsburgh.
Spirit flies to several destinations year-round from Myrtle Beach. Service to Atlantic City International Airport, Logan International Airport in Boston, Fort Lauderdale and LaGuardia will continue through the winter.
Airlines usually resume their seasonal flights in the spring.
Airport passenger numbers are up over last summer, when traffic dropped by double-digit percentages. For all of 2012, passenger numbers were down 16 percent -- ending a two-year streak of record years -- because of cuts by airlines and the loss of Myrtle Beach-based Direct Air, which abruptly shut down and filed for bankruptcy in March 2012.
Through July this year, about 497,772 passengers flew into the airport, up about 11 percent from the same period last year, according to airport statistics.
Lovell credits the Myrtle Beach brand, an improving U.S. economy and a healthier airline industry nationally with this year’s rebound in passenger numbers. Airlines such as Spirit have added destinations and are using planes with more seats flying into MYR, and the airport landed new service to Canada on WestJet.
“As a result of the improving airline industry, rebounding U.S. economy and strong brand, air carriers have added seat capacity and introduced new nonstop air service at Myrtle Beach International Airport,” Lovell said.
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