Airline cutbacks lead to first decline in passenger numbers at Myrtle Beach airport since January

dbryant@thesunnews.comDecember 11, 2013 

Cutbacks in United Airlines flights in November helped lead to the first drop in monthly passenger numbers at Myrtle Beach International Airport since January.

United Airlines was flying year-round to Newark, N.J., but converted it to seasonal service, with the last flight for the season Nov. 4. The service is planned to resume March 6, according to Kirk Lovell, spokesman for Myrtle Beach International Airport.

Most airlines stop flying or scale back service to Myrtle Beach during the slower winter tourism offseason.

United carried only 123 passengers into Myrtle Beach in November, compared to 889 incoming passengers in November 2012, according to airport statistics.

Delta also brought fewer passengers into Myrtle Beach for the third consecutive month, compared to the same months last year.

“Ultimately, [fewer Delta passengers] is a result of thinned capacity as a result of flying smaller equipment into our market,” Lovell said.

Those contributed to a slight decline in overall passenger numbers for the airport in November. About 45,266 passengers flew into Myrtle Beach in November, down from 45,829 incoming passengers in November 2012.

That broke the run of monthly increases in passenger numbers for the airport, which was recovering this year after a 16 percent drop in incoming passengers in 2012. Through November this year, about 794,379 passengers have flown into the airport, about 12 percent more than during the same 11-month period last year.

But the airport is still off 2011’s record pace, when through November that year, 842,756 passengers had flown into the airport.

“Year-to-date the airport has already handled more passengers than all of 2013 combined,” Pat Apone, interim airports director, said in a news release.

Spirit Airlines remains the dominant carrier in the market, bringing 413,724 passengers into Myrtle Beach through November this year.

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

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