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Southwest, United help Myrtle Beach airport with supply. Demand is now biggest question.

United Airlines

United Airlines is adding several flights between Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head to seven Midwest cities in May. Provided/United Airlines

MYRTLE BEACH — The opportunity to fly in and out of Myrtle Beach International Airport will be at an all-time high in 2021. Now only time will tell whether passengers will feel confident enough to fill those seats.

Within weeks of the spring tourism season officially kicking off, the MYR made a handful of blockbuster announcements of flights to and from the popular tourist destination.

Southwest Airlines announced 10 destinations, some flights occurring five times per week, while United Airlines announced three destinations.

Spirit Airlines is still, by far, Myrtle Beach airport's leading carrier, followed by American Airlines and Delta.

"MYR’s recovery rate has continually outpaced the national average since June 2020," said Ryan Betcher, spokesman for the airport. "Looking forward, the number of scheduled departing seats from MYR for the 2021 peak tourism season are currently trending over 2019 scheduled departing seats, with 2019 being a record-breaking year for MYR."

In 2019, about 1.307 million passengers arrived at MYR, while 1.304 million boarded planes that year. If the start of 2021 is any indication of how quickly the airport will recover, arrivals at MYR in January were 24,175 compared to 42,487 in January 2019.

In a recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll for CouponCabin, 52 percent of Americans plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to them. Among the top two things they plan to do: 67 percent said they plan to see family and friends in person and 58 percent said they plan to travel.

This April, Betcher said, departing seats from MYR are up 12 percent versus April 2019. He said the national average is seeing scheduled departing seats down 30 percent for the same period.

"This demonstrates that our airline partners recognize the built-up demand for travel to and from the Grand Strand," he said.

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