MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Even with rising fuel costs and a shady outlook for the national economy, Myrtle Beach based Direct Air has announced new service to two destinations from the Grand Strand. Direct Air's announcement is just the latest growth coming out of Myrtle Beach International.
It's important to realize that these successes are coming during a time of uncertainty in the airline industry, dealing with the rebounding economy where companies have been very conservative with spending and most recently with these staggering fuel prices.
When Direct Air launched the company in 2007, their approach was simple. "We go to the smaller airports so people don't have to fight the congestion at the larger airports. we service markets that before haven't had direct flight to myrtle beach," says Bob Keilman, CFO for Direct Air.
And it seems to be working. The hometown airline is announcing two new direct flights starting in June, to Hagerstown, Maryland and Lakeland, Florida.
Mike LaPier, Director of Myrtle Beach International Airport, says this is just one piece to the pie to getting Myrtle Beach on the map. Not just attracting visitors within a driving distance, but looking even further.
"If you look at our service pattern, we don't have much that goes West, so there's a huge part of our country that is well beyond where we are at today and I think that is our role," says Mike LaPier.
While that may not be a reality in the near future, it is something they're working toward.
In the mean time, Myrtle Beach International has its hands full dealing with record number of people coming through the terminal. They're also making room for more flights from Spirit, Allegiant and Direct Air than ever before, including the 27 direct flights now on the books.
The terminal expansion project is expected to open in 2013 and if that's not enough, officials say there are even more changes coming. Mike LaPier can't give specifics at this point, but says they'll be adding some entertainment in the terminal. He says the whole idea is to create a space that we can enjoy, instead of viewing the airport as just a place to pass through.