MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - While the terminal at the Myrtle Beach International Airport is new, the runway it's working with is not. Airport officials are getting ready to upgrade the runway your plane takes off and lands on to keep it up to FAA standards, but the work could affect your future travel plans.
To do the project, construction crews will have to redo the entire runway strip, which is 9,500 feet long. The runway airlines use now is more than 20 years old and is in need of an upgrade. The project's $20 million price tag covers repaving as well as new lighting. Airport officials say they are getting started now so they can use grant money to pay for all the work.
Since the runway strip is the most important part of an airport, this project has a big chance of affecting travelers. It will really depend on the time of your flight, and your traveling luck.
Airport officials say they are planning to do everything they can to work on this multi-million dollar project around the flight schedules from October through April. Here's their plan: After the last flight at night, construction crews will work overnight to pull out all of the necessary equipment, work on the runway for a couple of hours, and then move everything out of the way before the first flight. But there will only be a 15-minute window from when the flights end for the day and when the work begins. It could get tricky if you're coming to Myrtle Beach or trying to leave. Since there's such a short window, if your flight gets delayed past the 15-minute time frame, then the airlines will have to cancel the flight altogether or rebook you.
Airport officials say they have no other choice.
"We have to close the runway to keep the project going. What also happens if we don't keep our schedule, we potentially go into cost overruns. The cost of the project increases substantially," explained Kirk Lovell, spokesperson for The Myrtle Beach International Airport.
Either way, the project could affect passengers. If the airport waits on delays and therefore ends up paying more for the project, then they'll charge the airlines more, and then the airlines will more than likely pass it on to you by increasing your ticket price for flying in and out of Myrtle Beach.
The best advice for you to avoid this situation is when you're booking flights, make sure you don't have the first or last flight operating out. If your flight does end up getting cancelled or rebooked because of the construction, Lovell says airlines are prepared to handle it with their normal procedures for that situation.