Documents reveal Direct Air wanted expansion before bankruptcy

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Documents obtained by WMBF News show Direct Air planned to bring more of its operation to Myrtle Beach's International Technology and Aerospace Park before its financial trouble went public.

Those details are outlined in January e-mails between Michael LaPier, airports director and Hank Torbert, chairman of the company that now owns Direct Air.

Torbert wrote in a letter addressed to LaPier, his company D.C.-based Avondale Ventures, wanted to expand. It's the first ITAP project airport officials acknowledged was in the works.

Airport Spokeswoman Lauren Morris says airport officials aren't holding their breath for the expansion to take place anytime soon and that the discussion months ago was just preliminary.

"There was some discussion about them possibly having more of a reservations center or a maintenance hangar," said Morris.

Morris says airport officials haven't spoken to anyone from Direct Air about the expansion since the charter's bankruptcy. If the company doesn't end up moving in to ITAP she doesn't think the project will suffer.

"I think that Direct Air, their priorities are probably elsewhere right now. We're continuing to develop ITAP, we're continuing to develop the infrastructure and work with people to market it," she said.

Avondale Ventures owns other airlines and aviation companies and the company's expansion to ITAP could have brought jobs and growth.

The e-mails between LaPier and Torbert also show LaPier was just as shocked about Direct Air's financial situation as its customers.

On March 13, the day the charter canceled flights, LaPier writes, "We know very little about what is going on other than a fueling issue. My people are getting barraged with calls from your customers. They need to have a number to refer people to."

Calls to Torbert for comment about any expansion plans were not returned.

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