AirTran AirwaysNEWS

AirTran pulls out of Myrtle Beach, Delta steps in with route boost

By S. Adam Cardais,
Staff Writer

It looks like AirTran Airways' loss will be Delta's gain.

Atlanta-based low-cost carrier AirTran recently announced it is discontinuing flights to southeastern U.S. golf mecca Myrtle Beach because it wasn't getting enough business-class bookings to justify the service.

"While we appreciate the support of the airport and the community, we just have not seen the profitability levels that we need on this route to keep it in our network," company public-relations manager Judy Graham-Weaver said.

But any damage to Myrtle Beach tourism from AirTran's pullout will likely be offset by Delta, which is stepping in to capitalize on any surplus demand.

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The airline is expanding its service to Myrtle Beach International Airport this summer, offering about 30 percent more seats between March and September. The move is in conjunction with Delta's new service to Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach's upscale counterpart in South Carolina golf.

"Whether customers want more time on the green or a relaxing day at the beach, Delta's new service to Hilton Head and expanded service to Myrtle Beach offers customers comfortable, convenient options for travel beginning this spring," Bob Cortelyou, Delta's vice president of network planning, said in a statement.

Carson Courage of golf packager Myrtle Beach Travel said Delta's expansion makes sense because higher-end golfers like to use frequent-flyer miles, which most discounters don't offer. He downplayed any potential negative impact from AirTran's exit, noting that "your value golfer is going to drive anyway."

Despite the shutdown of Myrtle Beach-based Hooters Air last year, the area is looking at an air-travel boost this season, with several carriers announcing new or expanded service to the Grand Strand.

Spirit Airlines will begin daily nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Myrtle Beach next month. In March Southern Skyways will introduce flights from Allentown, Pa., Charleston, W.Va., and Cincinnati, Ohio.

"The addition of these new airlines and flights is exciting news for the Myrtle Beach area," Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. "As a premier destination for both leisure and business travelers, it's important that Myrtle Beach be accessible and easy to reach."

January 12, 2007

The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. Content for this site is provided by GolfPublisher Syndications.

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