Southwest Airlines is heading to Myrtle Beach. The United States’ biggest low-cost carrier will commence services to the popular South Carolina vacation hotspot on Saturday, May 23. Southwest’s move into Myrtle Beach comes as United Airlines also announces new flights there.
Southwest Airlines goes into Myrtle Beach in a big way
Southwest Airlines appears to have considerable confidence in Myrtle Beach’s potential. Over a two-week timeframe, the Dallas-based airline is launching ten nonstop routes from the city.
On Sunday, May 23, nonstop flights to Nashville, Baltimore/Washington, and Chicago Midway will start. Six days later, on Saturday, May 29, the first nonstop flights to Dallas Love Field and Pittsburg will take off. On Sunday, June 6, nonstop flights to Atlanta, Colombus, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and St Louis will begin.
In addition, Myrtle Beach will be accessible via Southwest Airlines flights this summer from over 50 cities through same-plane and connecting itineraries.
Southwest’s arrival into Myrtle Beach comes as the airline begins flying to multiple new destinations to capitalize on a growing domestic travel demand. Southwest Airlines started services to Chicago (O’Hare) and Sarasota/Bradenton in mid-February.
Two weeks ago, Savannah/Hilton Head and Colorado Springs saw their first Southwest flights. In mid-April, Southwest Airlines will begin flying to both Houston George Bush Intercontinental and Santa Barbara Airports. In addition to Myrtle Beach, in May, Southwest Airlines will start services to Fresno, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Bozeman, and Jackson Airports. Later this year, Southwest Airlines is eyeing flights to Eugene and Bellingham.
“We continue to tailor our schedule with added flights to address closer-in demand for leisure destinations while making foundational additions to our map that position our network for the future,” says Southwest’s CCO, Andrew Watterson.
A welcome bit of extra business at Myrtle Beach International Airport
The domestic airline market in the United States is showing signs of life again. Airports like Myrtle Beach are welcoming the additional business. Myrtle Beach International Airport is one of the busiest airports in South Carolina. The airport normally serves more than two million passengers annually. With people on the move again, the number of airline seats available at the airport in April is up 12%.
In 2019, before the travel downturn disrupted flying, Spirit Airlines carried the most passengers in and out of Myrtle Beach. Spirit Airlines had a 45% market share at Myrtle Beach. Between them, American Airlines (29%), Delta Air Lines (13%), and Allegiant Air (105) mopped up most of the remaining traffic to Myrtle Beach.
United Airlines also heads to Myrtle Beach
Notably absent from Myrtle Beach International were Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. Both are now readying to rectify that. It may be a coincidence, or it may be a competitive slapdown, but on the same day Southwest Airlines announced it would start flying to Myrtle Beach, so did United Airlines.
“We are finding opportunities to add new and exciting services,” says United’s Ankit Gupta. “We will continue being nimble and strategic with our network to add the right service to the destinations our customers want to visit.”
From May 27, United Airlines will start flying three times a week to Myrtle Beach from Cleveland, Milwaukee, and St Louis. In contrast to Southwest’s all Boeing 737 fleet, United Airlines will primarily fly to Myrtle Beach using their factory fresh Bombardier CRJ-550s.
The added competition is good news for passengers who use Myrtle Beach International Airport. The new services also come as domestic airlines across the United States enjoy growing passenger demand and signs the worst of the travel downturn is behind them. Both United Airlines and Southwest Airlines have flagged strong bookings over the next few months.