Weekend route to northeast from MYR to expand to daily service

This Aug. 13, 2013 file photo shows an American Airlines plane between two US Airways planes at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport. American Airlines emerges from bankruptcy protection and US Airways culminates its long pursuit of a merger partner when the two complete their deal Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, and create the world's biggest airline.

American Airlines will expand its current weekend only nonstop air service from Reagan National Airport to Myrtle Beach International Airport to daily nonstop air service in 2018.

The new daily nonstop air service will start April 3.

“We are excited to see daily nonstop service resume between Reagan National Airport and Myrtle Beach International Airport,” said Brad Dean, president and  CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, via email.

The flights will leave Reagan at 11:30 a.m. and arrive in Myrtle Beach at 12:58 p.m. The flight from Myrtle Beach will leave at 1:35 p.m. and arrive at Reagan at 2:57 p.m. Round trip seats in the main cabin will cost between $350 and $403, according to a sample flight from the company’s website.

In 2013, Myrtle Beach International Airport lost daily service to Reagan as a result of the 2013 US Airways/American Airlines merger, though weekend service continued. American Airlines-US Airways agreed to give up slots, or takeoffs and landing rights, at Washington Reagan and LaGuardia as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to allow the two carriers to combine to form the world’s largest airline, which meant Myrtle Beach was on the losing end.

“Previous nonstop was very helpful in attracting visitors from the DC metro region and provided quick, convenient access to local residents flying to our nation’s capital,” Dean said. “Unfortunately, a compromise struck by the Obama administration resulted in several gate swaps and ultimately eliminated our direct access to DCA, leaving us with limited connectivity. In recent years, we’ve invested millions in marketing to travelers in the DC region and it has become one of our top feeder markets.”

The loss of daily nonstop flights to DC was a blow to MYR travelers, and demand from the DC area to Myrtle Beach was strong, local officials have said.

“American Airlines’ announcement to re-introduce daily nonstop service between MYR and DCA speaks to the strength of our marketplace and its ability to generate strong passengers numbers between the markets,” said Kirk Lovell,  director of Air Service and Business Development at the Horry County Department of Airports, which operates MYR. “The ability to fly nonstop, any day of the week between Myrtle Beach International Airport and Washington Reagan National is vital to the business community.”

Dean said the new flights should address the Myrtle Beach area’s efforts to beef up the shoulder season visitors.

“With so many young professionals and families living in the DC metro area, this service will enable us to expand our visitor base, particularly during the spring and fall seasons,” Dean said. “A primary goal for us is attracting more visitors during the slower times of the year and creating more year-round jobs, and this service should enhance our ability to deliver on those goals.”

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