Myrtle Beach airport logs busiest March since 2008

Myrtle Beach International Airport had its busiest March since 2008, marking the first uptick in passenger numbers in 2014 compared to the same months last year.

About 69,224 passengers flew into Myrtle Beach in March, nearly 5,000 more incoming passengers than March 2013, according to airport statistics.

That growth offset two months of declines in passenger numbers this year compared to last year. About 136,703 passengers flew into Myrtle Beach during the first three months of 2014 -- 3,263 more than the same period last year.

“The traffic levels in March are a good sign, indicating a strong spring air travel season,” airport director Pat Apone said in a news release. “After two months of traffic declines directly related to severe weather in the Southeast, March passenger volumes have made up for the lost traffic and the airport is now trending above last year’s levels.”

Several carriers started seasonal flights earlier than usual this year and will continue ramping up as the busy summer tourist season approaches. Allegiant Air will resume its seasonal service, including several new destinations, in May. Allegiant is adding flights to Cincinnati and Columbus in Ohio; Lexington, Ky.; and Syracuse, N.Y.

This was the busiest March since 2008, when 72,295 passengers flew into the airport.

“March traffic volumes represent what we anticipate for the remainder of the season -- growth,” airport spokesman Kirk Lovell said. “The growth is directly related to the airlines’ confidence in the market and a strong demand from people wanting to vacation in the Grand Strand area.”

The airport is adding more parking that is expected to open before the summer. The airport opened its $118 million terminal a year ago.