Allegiant to add Myrtle Beach destination from Hagerstown

By C.J. Lovelace
news@crossroadsbizjournal.com

In this Herald-Mail file photo, people board an Allegiant MD-80 at Hagerstown Regional Airport for a flight to the Orlando, Fla., area. The airline is set to begin service to Myrtle Beach, S.C., in June.

After years of requests, travelers got some good news recently with Allegiant Air’s announcement that it would add service from Hagerstown, Md., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., starting June 9.

The low-cost, vacation-oriented carrier will offer introductory base fares as low as $49 each way.

“We’ve had a couple of phone calls from passengers asking (about the new flights),” said Peggy Siler, airline station leader for the Allegiant service out at Hagerstown Regional Airport. “People have already started booking them.”

It’s not the first time flights have been offered to Myrtle Beach from the local airport.

Direct Air once offered Myrtle Beach flights from Hagerstown, although it appears they only lasted a little more than a month, according to Airport Director Garrison Plessinger. The flights ended in August 2011.

Former Airport Director Phil Ridenour, who retired last fall, said there haven’t been any Myrtle Beach flights since then.

Allegiant’s new seasonal route planned for the airport will operate twice weekly out of Hagerstown, running on Thursdays and Sundays. Flights through Aug. 11 can be purchased online at www.allegiant.com.

“We’re excited to grow again in a longtime Allegiant city — Hagerstown,” Drew Wells, Allegiant’s vice president of planning and revenue, said in a news release.

With the addition of flights to Myrtle Beach International Airport, Allegiant will now serve three cities from the Washington County-owned airport known locally as “HGR.” It also provides nonstop flights to Orlando-Sanford and St. Petersburg-Clearwater international airports in central Florida.

Talk about wanting Myrtle Beach service via Hagerstown started about five years ago, even before Allegiant added its St. Pete-Clearwater route. Siler said airport officials have “really been pushing hard” the past few years for the new destination.

“We’ve had an unsolicited signup sheet at the ticket counter for the past three years, which probably now has a couple thousand names and emails,” she said.

Allegiant heard local travelers’ voices.

“We saw there was a demand for that route over the summer, so we think it’s going to be very successful,” said Kim Schaefer, director of public relations for Allegiant. “We feel this is an opportunity for more people to spend more time on their vacation rather than getting there.”

Schaefer said additional Myrtle Beach flights could be scheduled into September, depending on demand.

Ridership on Allegiant’s two Florida routes out of HGR remains strong, Siler said, with the year-round service to Orlando typically taking off with 93 to 97 percent of all seats full last year.

Flights to St. Pete-Clearwater, which are seasonal and will return in March, were running at about 85 to 87 percent occupancy, she said.

Staff writer Dave McMillion contributed to this story