As Allegiant Air announced a new route between Kansas City and Myrtle Beach, local officials were quick to praise the growth of the Grand Strand's airport and its economic impact.
The announcement was the latest in a string of new routes between the Grand Stand and other areas, including many Midwestern cities. Allegiant announced routes with Nashville, Tennessee, and Flint, Michigan, and Louisville, Kentucky, earlier this year.
Tickets for the Kansas City are as low as $49, but they must be purchased by Wednesday for travel by August 13, according to a release from Allegiant. Tickets include taxes and fees.
The newest route will run twice a week between Kansas City International Airport and Myrtle Beach International Airport. The route is seasonal.
The addition marks the 48th non-stop market to partner with Myrtle Beach, said Kirk Lovell, director of air service and business development with the airport. That is more the double the number of non-stop connections at any other South Carolina Airport
In 2017, the Myrtle Beach airport surpassed 1 million passengers for the first time, Lovell said. He added they are ahead of that pace in 2018.
The airport isn't just for people traveling to Myrtle Beach. Officials have seen growth in the number of locals using the facility. Lowell said just years ago, the daily average of Grand Strand residents using the airport was 595 people. Today that figure is more than 1,000.
An economic study found that airport has a $2.6 billion impact on the local area, Lovell said.
"The airport is a vital aspect," Lowell said.
Myrlte Beach Golf Holiday President Bill Golden said as new markets open, people are bullish on Myrtle Beach.
"This is new business," he said. "This is economic development 101."
Horry County Council Chair Mark Lazarus recalled when they received $80 million to expand the airport and he said that within four years he expects another expansion push.
Bud Hafer, manager of airport affairs for Allegiant Airlines, said the company history started with only three routes from Myrtle Beach, but over the last few years they added a dozen and now the total stands at 20 non-stop routes to the Grand Strand.
Hafer said they were in Northeast markets that traditionally know of Myrtle Beach, but now they moved further west with the new markets. Those new cities expand the reach and allow them to meet increased demand. Hafer added that residents in the new markets are receptive about traveling to the Grand Strand.
While not providing specifics, Hafer said they don't plan to stop at 20 markets.
"We expect to continue to grow," he said.
Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong