Feb. 24--Allegiant Air, a low-cost leisure travel airline, will fly to Fort Wayne, Ind., from Myrtle Beach this spring, the latest in a string of new air service to the Grand Strand.
The nonstop flights to Fort Wayne International Airport will run on Mondays and Fridays, starting April 30. Flights will depart Fort Wayne at 4:40 p.m. and arrive at Myrtle Beach International Airport at 6:30 p.m. Flights will leave Myrtle Beach at 2:10 p.m. and arrive in Fort Wayne at 4 p.m. The carrier will use a 150-seat, jet-aircraft on the route.
The Fort Wayne flight will be the first to Indiana from Myrtle Beach, and will primarily bring tourists and golfers to play along the Grand Strand.
"Myrtle Beach is constantly among the most requested destinations for the people of Fort Wayne, and to have nonstop service available is just great," Tory Richardson, Fort Wayne's executive director of airports, said in a news release.
The flights give golfers in the Fort Wayne area, which includes bigger markets such as Toledo, Ohio, and northern Indianapolis, a way to get to the Grand Strand's greens, said Bill Golden, president of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, a marketing group that helps lure air service. Most golfers in that area didn't consider the Grand Strand because of the 14- to 15-hour drive here, he said.
"Now they have an option to come to Myrtle Beach," Golden said.
This is the fourth destination for Allegiant from Myrtle Beach. It also will add Grand Rapids, Mich., this spring and resume the routes it flew last year to Huntington, W.Va., and Allentown, Pa.
Officials say more new flights on Allegiant are on their way to Myrtle Beach -- with another announcement possible as early as this week -- though they wouldn't give details.
"We are thrilled to have them continue to invest in us," said Lauren Morris, spokeswoman for the Myrtle Beach airport.
The Fort Wayne flight is among nearly a half dozen new routes starting in Myrtle Beach this spring. The area will have new nonstop flights to new destinations such as Toronto on Porter Airlines; Grand Rapids, Mich., and Fort Wayne on Allegiant and Dallas-Fort Worth on American Eagle Airlines, which opens more convenient travel to the west.
Officials at Allegiant, which is based in Las Vegas, say they are adding more flights because Myrtle Beach has exceeded their expectations since they began service here in April.
Allegiant focuses on serving leisure destinations, making Myrtle Beach and its supply of lodging properties a natural fit, Allegiant spokeswoman Tyri Squyres said.
"Myrtle Beach has been a great destination for us," she said. "As a company we focus on taking people from small communities to world-class leisure destinations like Myrtle Beach."
Allegiant, which operated in Myrtle Beach from April through October in 2009, carried 13,487 passengers to the beach during those seven months, according to statistics from Myrtle Beach International Airport. It doesn't fly here during the slower winter months.
Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296.