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Myrtle Beach airport gets new flights to New York and Virginia

jlee@thesunnews.com

Elite Airways will offer three additional flight destinations to Myrtle Beach International Airport from New York and Virginia, just in time for the spring tourism season, the airline announced at the airport here Wednesday.

The new routes include Albany International Airport and Westchester County Airport in New York and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in Virginia.

Elite Airways began operations at Myrtle Beach International Airport in 2016 with regular flights to Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York.

The new nonstop flights will operate twice weekly beginning the first week of April, with one-way prices starting at $129 for Virginia and $199 for the New York destinations.

Golf bags fly free, said David Dow, Elite Airways vice president, in making the announcement.

“We will watch how demand grows, and we have every confidence that demand for this is going to be strong. So this is just a start for us,” Dow said.

As that demand grows, Dow said more flight times will be added to New York and Virginia.

Dow also hinted that Myrtle Beach is being considered for another destination stop in the northeast, and a possible Midwest route.

Kirk Lovell, director of air service and business development, said the Myrtle Beach airport now serves 38 markets and has more nonstop markets served than any other airport in the state.

In November, the Myrtle Beach International Airport reached a milestone of serving one million passengers in less than a year.

“Passengers are flocking to Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand, and this is a great facility to welcome these people,” Lovell said.

With the additional flights, the airport expects to see a 20 percent increase in passengers this spring compared to last year, Lovell said.

“That is magic to our ears,” said Bill Golden, CEO of Golf Tourism Solutions.

More flights in April will allow players to visit Myrtle Beach during the peak golf season, Golden said.

The air service will also make it easier for golf destinations to market to new customers, Golden said.

Todd Setzer, former board chairman of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said growing the spring and fall tourism seasons, also known as the shoulder seasons, is a top priority for chamber members.

He estimated annual visitors are up to 18 million a year, and said the new flights will help tourism officials reach their goal of 20 million visitors by 2020.

“One thing we do know, is that when people come here once, we’re going to have them come back a second time and a third time, and they may be a future resident in the Myrtle Beach market,” Setzer said.

Elite Airways is a boutique airline that operates a fleet of Bombardier CRJ-200 and CRJ-700 jet airliners. The airline is pet friendly, and offers free snacks and beverages during flights.

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