Spirit Airlines to start some flights to Myrtle Beach earlier this year

dbryant@thesunnews.comJanuary 14, 2014 

Spirit Airlines will again get an earlier than usual start on some of its flights to Myrtle Beach this year, resuming some and kicking up the frequency of others as early as February and March.

Flights to Philadelphia and Charleston, W.Va., will resume in late March, a couple of weeks earlier than last year. Flights to other cities that will resume in mid-February will ramp up quicker than usual as the busy summer season approaches, with the frequency of flights increasing in late March. Last year, Spirit moved up the restart of flights to five cities including Chicago and Detroit, and will stick with those earlier starts this year.

Spirit Airlines, by far the dominant airline in Myrtle Beach carrying more than half of the airport’s passengers each year, announced the changes Tuesday. Earlier this month, WestJet, which started serving Myrtle Beach last year, said it would resume service to Canada in March, about two months earlier than it did in 2013.

“Certainly we believe demand will be strong,” Spirit spokeswoman DeAnne Gabel said of its Myrtle Beach flights.

Airlines typically stop serving Myrtle Beach or scale back service during the slow winter months then return or ramp up between March and May as the busy summer tourism season approaches and demand picks up.

It remains to be seen whether the earlier starts by Spirit and WestJet will mean that Myrtle Beach might be closing that winter gap of service. Demand has to be there.

“Air service levels – seats and flights – will always follow passenger demand,” airport spokesman Kirk Lovell said.

Lovell said the response to the earlier starts on some Spirit flights last year was strong. Spirit has flights year-round to Myrtle Beach from four cities: Atlantic City, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and New York-LaGuardia.

“Spirit Airlines is getting a jump on the spring season by expanding non-stop service to many of our biggest markets, which is great news for Myrtle Beach area visitors and residents,” Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release. “These earlier start dates will entice spring travelers anxious to beat the winter doldrums with a visit to the beautiful Myrtle Beach area.”

Here’s a rundown of Spirit’s ramp up of service to Myrtle Beach International Airport this year:

• Chicago and Detroit resume daily service Feb. 13

• Latrobe, Pa., resumes Feb. 13 three times a week, then four a week starting March 20 (moved up from April 2) and daily starting May 1

• Niagara Falls resumes Feb. 14 twice a week, then four times a week starting May 2

• Baltimore resumes Feb. 15 twice a week, then three times a week starting March 20, then daily starting May 1

• Philadelphia resumes March 20 (up from April 3) three times a week, then daily starting May 1

• Charleston, W.Va., resumes March 22 (up from April 2) twice a week

• Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Dallas-Fort Worth resume May 1, each three times a week

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

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