COPY-Spirit announces service expansion in MB

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Spirit Airlines has announced Thursday afternoon it will be servicing flights to five new markets from Myrtle Beach International.

The expansion of service in Myrtle Beach will include new seasonal flights to Washington, DC; Plattsburgh, NY; Niagara Falls, NY; Latrobe, PA; and Charleston, WV.

Spirit spokesperson Misty Pinson began the company announcement by saying, "I'm not here to announce a new destination... I'm excited to be here to announce five new destinations."

MYR Director of Airports Michael La Pier called the announcement 'extremely exciting,' as Spirit airlines continues to invest in more flights to and from the Grand Strand.

"This commitment is indicative of Myrtle Beach's position as a world-class, value-driven destination with great appeal for airlines and visitors alike," La Pier said. "Our community has worked extremely hard to increase air service and we are particularly excited to see daily service to Washington, D.C. via Reagan National.  This will be a great benefit to our residents as well as provide more opportunity for increased tourism."

While another airline at Myrtle Beach International already offers service to D.C., it is only on weekends, and Spirit will offer daily flights. Some of the other destinations are also already served, but Spirit's offerings mean competitive prices and more options. Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce President Brand Dean said it also means reaching out to more people in those areas.

"It allows us to penetrate those markets further , particularly in the shoulder seasons when people are looking for a short get away but don't necessarily want to drive," Dean said.

Dean estimated if the flights are successful they could potentially bring an additional 30-50 million dollars to the local economy.

Spirit Airlines currently offers an average of 11 daily non-stop flights from Myrtle Beach to seven major destinations between May and August. Flights currently in service from MYR include Atlanta, Atlantic City, Boston, Chicago O'Hare, Detroit, New York LaGuardia and Fort Lauderdale.

Two of the routes Spirit plans to add are currently being served by Myrtle Beach based Direct Air. Some wonder if the increase in service on those same routes could start a fare war between the two airlines.

"I think that the service we provide is what's going to set the difference between the carriers and what were offering." said Judy Tull, managingi partner of Direct Air.

The airline provider also connects to 25 additional cities in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America.

Spirit started regular scheduled service in Myrtle Beach in 1996.

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