MYR 2013 passenger stats high, with optimism for new year

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach International Airport had a huge drop in visitors in 2012 but saw a rebound in 2013.

The year ended with 833,568 passengers, a 12-percent increase from last year, but fell about 48,000 passengers shy of beating record numbers from 2011.

Travelers say the jump in numbers is in part, due to the many positive changes to the airport, including opening the new terminal in April.

Last year, Spirit Airlines, announced the addition of more seasonal flights, including trips to Baltimore and Philadelphia. The airline also added larger aircraft to the market.

As a whole, the airline industry experienced improvements in 2013 by reducing their costs and increasing revenue, which allowed them to add more flights.

"Due to the fact that Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a popular destination and tourism demand remains strong, Myrtle Beach International Airport was the recipient of additional capacity," says MYR Marketing Manager Kirk Lovell. "Because of market popularity, additional seat capacity passenger volumes at Myrtle Beach International Airport increased."

The airport along with Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, say improvement in airport traffic is due to continued marketing to airlines for expanded air service between markets.

They say as long as tourism remains high, we will continue to have flights to and from the market, the chambers goal is 1.5 million new visitors this year.

The Horry County Department of Airports is optimistic for 2014.  Lovell says the return of Canadian airline West Jet, this March, two months earlier than last year, is a step towards breaking records.

MYR officials set four goals in place for 2014: to maintain flights offered, grow with more seat capacity, expand through seasons and attract new carriers to the market.

The airport is served by Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, Porter Airlines, Spirit, United Airlines, US Airways and WestJet offering non-stop service to over 25 cities.

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