Myrtle Beach International Airport is slated to receive a 30,000-seat bump in arrival capacity in the beginning part of 2017 as the facility continues to increase its volume.
At a marketing and tourism update hosted by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, airport spokesman Kirk Lovell said over 450,000 arrival seats are expected from the start of 2017 to May, a 7-percent increase from that period in 2016. Projections for next year also show an 18-percent increase since 2012 in traffic in that period of the year.
Lovell said lower airfares bring more demand to an airport. He also said the airport is trying to align with more carriers that will fly directly and avoid large hubs, like Atlanta or Charlotte, that usually require travelers to connect to a second flight on their way to Myrtle Beach.
“Low fares actually generate travelers and attract new visitors to our marketplace,” he said.
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While low-budget Spirit Airlines carries about 52 percent of passengers at the airport, Lovell said the fastest growing carrier in Myrtle Beach is United Airlines, which increased its capacity by 62 percent from 2015 to 2016.
This year was a year for growth in multiple respects for Myrtle Beach airport, as its management announced new non-stop flights to Akron-Canton and Newark airports, operated by Spirit. Lovell said the airport is expecting more announcements about increased nonstop service in the near future.
“Being able to fly point to point is huge for our market,” he said.