Dean: European flights a 'long way' from reality

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Travelers could soon have more international flight options at Myrtle Beach International Airport, should successful discussions between area leaders and a number of European charter companies continue.

Horry County Council Chairwoman Liz Gilland mentioned briefly at a Tuesday evening meeting the possibility of new flights from London to Myrtle Beach over two weeks in either the spring or fall months.

While multiple discussions with charter-based airlines have occurred over the last six to 12 months, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean says area leaders have more work to do before finalizing any concrete flight arrangements to Europe.

"We're a long way from finalizing any arrangements," Dead said Tuesday evening. "Our primary focus is filling the plans already planning on coming [to Myrtle Beach] this year, and attracting new routes and additional domestic service."

Despite Gilland's early leak of European flight prospects, Dean does confirm more than one charter service is interested in providing direct service to the Grand Strand.

"We remain hopeful we'll have improved access to key foreign markets in the near future," said Dean. "The potential is certainly there."

While the idea of European charter flights may be distant, Myrtle Beach International's newest non-stop service route to Toronto is proving to be a fruitful one. Dean says early indicators reveal twice-a-week service routes from Canada-based Porter Airlines are "very encouraging" in terms of load factors and the speed at which reservations are made.

Porter Airlines has begun servicing two weekly routes through Myrtle Beach International on Thursdays and Sundays through May 30. Fliers can purchase one-way fares, slated to begin at $179 plus tax.

"The Canadian travel market is colossal for the Myrtle Beach area," said Dean. "Canadians already have access to Myrtle Beach through nonstop service from Niagara Falls, via Direct Air; however, Porter's new international service from Toronto will inspire even more Canadian guests to visit the area through these fast and affordable flights. We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Porter and more Canadians to Myrtle Beach."

The direct flight from Myrtle Beach to Toronto will last just over two hours, as the Bombardier Q400 transports 70 tourists in and out of Myrtle Beach at a time.

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